Exact, Microscopy, FairSquare, & More: This Week’s WI Watchlist

Keep up with the latest news from Wisconsin’s innovation community with these recent headlines:

—Exact Sciences is evaluating two potential sites where it would house a second lab for processing results of its flagship product Cologuard, a stool-based DNA test for colorectal cancer, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Madison-based Exact (NASDAQ: EXAS) said it completed 244,000 tests of Cologuard in 2016, and expects to complete 470,000 tests this year. One of the sites the company is reportedly considering used to be operated by Spectrum Brands (NYSE: SPB), also based in the Madison area, whose subsidiaries include Remington appliances and Rayovac batteries.

—Fitchburg-based Promega said it plans to seek FDA approval for one of its products for the first time. The product—a test that doctors would use to make decisions around diagnosing and treating patients with colorectal cancer—has been in use since 2004, but has only been used as a lab-developed test (and therefore is not subject to the same FDA oversight as other diagnostics). Promega pointed to a landmark FDA drug approval decision earlier this year as one factor that led to the company’s decision to seek regulatory approval for the assay.

—Marshfield-based Microscopy Innovations was awarded a $150,000 Phase 1 Small Business Technology Transfer contract. The award came from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, which oversees research and development projects, procurement, and medical logistics for the U.S. Army. Microscopy Innovations said it plans to use the proceeds from the contract to develop an integrated system for preparing biological specimens for examination in different environments, including laboratories, clinical settings, and the field.

The company said its mPrep system allows microscopy lab workers to more easily introduce fluids into capsules and track specimens, while reducing the amount of disposable lab equipment used. Steven Goodman, the company’s chief scientific officer, said the funding will allow Microscopy Innovations to “extend the advantages of the mPrep system to enable safer, easier, more reliable preparation of potentially pathogenic tissue specimens from emerging infectious disease situations in remote locations.”

—Beloit-based Comply365, which develops software designed to provide aviation industry workers with information they need about planes, flight routes, weather, and other things, raised an undisclosed amount of financing from San Francisco-based Luminate Capital Partners.

—University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers studying ways to remove bias from computer algorithms received a three-year, $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the school said. Four UW-Madison computer science professors are developing software they call FairSquare, which they said could be used by banks when making mortgage approval decisions and setting interest rates, for example. According to the university, their desire to create FairSquare stemmed from research showing that even well-designed algorithms don’t always take human bias out of decision-making.

—More news out of the state’s flagship university: researchers at UW-Madison and the school’s Morgridge Institute for Research said they have successfully engineered functional arterial cells that could eventually be used to help treat patients with heart disease. The researchers’ findings were published in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. According to UW-Madison, the cells contributed to new artery formation in mice and significantly improved their survival rate. The ultimate goal of the seven-year project, which is being supported by the National Institutes of Health, is to make it possible for patients to form functional arteries that are able to be used in heart bypass surgeries and other cardiovascular procedures, the university said.

—The Idea Fund of La Crosse, a venture capital fund created under a state-supported … Next Page »

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