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Wisconsin Roundup: Arrowhead, Cellular Dynamics, Madworks, & More

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Here are a few of the latest headlines from Wisconsin’s technology and innovation community:

—Arrowhead Research (NASDAQ: ARWR) said it received FDA approval to begin a Phase 2b study of its experimental RNA interference (RNAi) drug for treating hepatitis B. In January, the FDA put a partial hold on the trial, partly because it wanted Arrowhead to start patients on a lower dose of the drug, ARC-520, than the company was planning.

Arrowhead now plans to test the effects of three doses of the drug at the lower concentration level proposed by the FDA. The agency would need to see data from the scaled-back Phase 2b trial, as well as more data from two other studies, before it would allow Arrowhead to escalate the doses to the originally envisioned levels.

Pasadena, CA-based Arrowhead’s research and development operations are located in Madison.

—A second class-action lawsuit has been filed by a Cellular Dynamics International (NASDAQ: ICEL) shareholder challenging the company’s $307 million sale to Fujifilm, according to an SEC filing. The filing says that the second lawsuit makes similar claims as the first, but it also alleges that there were “disclosure violations in connection with” a document Cellular Dynamics filed with the SEC after the sale was announced. As we reported last week, that document detailed the financial pressure Madison-based Cellular Dynamics was under in recent months, which partly contributed to its decision to sell the company.

—Madison-based HealthMyne received a $750,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Science Foundation, and could win another $500,000 as part of the award. The announcement came a month after HealthMyne raised $4.5 million in a Series A round to boost its healthcare software business. HealthMyne has now raised a total of $6.5 million in equity funding, grants, and loans, the company says.

—Milwaukee-based Corvisa acquired Codebox, which makes software tools for Web app developers. Corvisa provides cloud-based software and services, primarily for call centers and business phone systems. It employs 200, including more than 100 in Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Business Journal reported.

Howard Jacob, an internationally known genomics researcher, will leave his post at the Medical College of Wisconsin to take a job in Alabama as the chief genomic medicine officer and vice president of genomic health at the nonprofit HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Jacob and a team of researchers drew international attention for sequencing the genes of Nic Volker, a Wisconsin boy with a rare disease—an effort that helped doctors figure out a treatment to save him. Jacob also spearheaded the opening of a genetic sequencing clinic in Milwaukee, the first of its kind in the nation, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Madworks Seed Accelerator, the Madison program that provides small grants and 10 weeks of business training to early-stage companies, concluded its third session this week. All told, its 26 program graduates have hired 57 people and generated more than $400,000 in revenue over the past year, accelerator co-founder Anne Smith says. One of the companies, SmartUQ, raised $1.8 million from angel investors.

1 Million Cups Madison said it’s moving its weekly Wednesday morning events from the 100state offices to the Madison Central Library, beginning April 22 at 9 a.m. The group will not meet this week.

The free events allow local entrepreneurs to present their ideas to the community and get feedback, while everyone sips coffee. Milwaukee also has a chapter.