Exact, Spectrum, PerBlue, & More: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist
It was a newsy week for Wisconsin’s innovation community. Catch up on some of the major happenings with these recent headlines:
—Exact Sciences’ (NASDAQ: EXAS) stock price finished the trading day on Wednesday down nearly 10 percent after the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) published the results of a study evaluating a liquid biopsy test for colorectal cancer. The study showed the test was up to 88 percent accurate, ASCO said. Madison-based Exact’s flagship product is Cologuard, a stool-based DNA test for colorectal cancer.
According to ASCO, the study took place in Taiwan and involved 620 adult patients, more than 70 percent of whom had either pre-cancerous growths or early to late-stage colorectal cancer. Catherine Ramsey Schulte, a senior research analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co., wrote in a research note that Exact enrolled 9,989 patients in its pivotal “DeeP-C” clinical study, and only 8 percent of them had pre-cancer or cancer. Control patients represented a relatively small percentage of participants in the Taiwanese study, which suggests that “the results in a ‘real-world’ setting, with 92 percent to 94 percent healthy patients, would not be as favorable” as the 620-patient study, Benchmark analyst Raymond Myers wrote in a separate research note.
—Middleton-based Spectrum Brands (NYSE: SPB) said it will sell its battery and lighting business to Energizer Holdings (NYSE: ENR) for $2 billion in cash. The deal is expected to close before the end of 2018, according to a news release. Spectrum said it expects to use some of the proceeds from the sale to “reduce debt, reinvest in its core businesses, both organically and through bolt-on acquisitions, and repurchase shares.” The company’s other business divisions are hardware and home improvement; pet, home, and garden; and automobile care.
—Disney (NYSE: DIS) said Madison-based PerBlue is one of four firms the California company is working with to develop mobile games based on Disney franchises, VentureBeat reported. Disney plans to later reveal the games PerBlue and the other three publishers are working on, according to the report, though it did not specify a timeline for announcing the information.
—Milwaukee-based Hyde Sportswear will pitch its flagship product the evening of Sunday Jan. 21 on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” Hyde has developed an ultra-thin life vest for fishermen, paddlers, and others who spend time on the water, The vest, known as Wingman, lists for $249 on the startup’s website. Hyde beat out dozens of startups to win the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest in 2016.
—Nordic, a Madison-based consulting firm that specializes in installations of electronic health records software applications, acquired a business line of Chicago-based The Claro Group focused on billing patients and their insurers for care. Cathy Smith and Shannon Yasseri joined Nordic from Claro following the partial acquisition; both now have the title “managing director of revenue cycle transformation” at the Wisconsin company. A spokesperson for Nordic declined to disclose specific financial terms of the deal.
—Staying in healthcare technology, we posted an interview with Karen DeSalvo, who served as the National Coordinator for Health IT from 2014 to 2016 under President Barack Obama. DeSalvo recently joined the faculty at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. She discussed the perception that patients’ health information is a commodity controlled by the hospitals and clinics where they receive care, the need for a “cloud-based and more data-focused environment,” and other topics.
—Milwaukee-based Scanalytics is developing sensors capable of reading shoppers’ unique foot compressions and measuring how long they stand in front of store displays in order to offer coupons to certain customers, The Associated Press reported. Scanalytics develops thin, Internet-connected floor mats and complementary software to help clients track foot traffic and other activity in physical spaces, such as stores. The startup reportedly has 150 customers worldwide, most of which are retailers. They pay anywhere from $20 to $1,000 a month to use Scanalytics’ tools, according to The AP.
—Mequon-based Titan Spine, which sells surgical implants for spinal procedures, raised $7.8 million from investors. The titanium implants (or “cages”) Titan Spine develops are designed to stabilize a patient’s spinal cord after the patient has had damaged vertebrae surgically removed, to name one application. Peter Ullrich, co-founder and CEO of Titan Spine, says its latest line of implants, which feature a nanotextured surface technology, have been used in more than 5,000 procedures since the company introduced them in mid-2016.
—Several employees of Salus Discovery, a company spun out of research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will visit collaborators in Ethiopia and South Africa this spring to validate patient samples using the company’s urine-based diagnostic test for tuberculosis, the school said. Many of the tests used to diagnose tuberculosis today reportedly require a saliva-and-mucus sample from the patient’s respiratory tract, which can be expensive and time-consuming to collect. David Beebe, a UW-Madison biomedical engineering professor who co-founded Salus in 2013, said he and others at the startup “think this new technology may soon not only detect [tuberculosis] in urine, but also diagnose many other conditions in both the developing and developed world.”
—Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARWR) said it plans to raise up to $52.5 million through a public offering of shares of the company’s common stock. Arrowhead is developing a number of drug candidates aimed at treating chronic hepatitis B virus, rare diseases resulting from alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, and other conditions. The company is headquartered in Pasadena, CA, but houses its research and development operations in Madison.
—The Milwaukee Business Journal profiled Civorium, a startup that has developed a free mobile app allowing users to post alerts and receive data like garbage and recycling schedules, election information, and notifications about community events. Civorium’s founder is Nick Fuchs, who reportedly works as a city planner for the Milwaukee suburb of Franklin. Fuchs believes there’s value in having a forum where citizens can report things like malfunctioning traffic lights and coyote sightings, the newspaper reported.