TUE AM News: Clinical trial begins for potential Ebola vaccine developed at UW-Madison; WMC calling for changes to state lobbying laws

— Scientists in Japan have begun a new clinical trial for a potential Ebola vaccine developed by researchers in the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. 

The new vaccine is different from most experimental vaccines, which typically use a secondary virus to deliver part of the Ebola virus to the immune system. The new vaccine contains only the Ebola virus, though the gene that enables viral infections has been edited out. 

Yoshihiro Kawaoka is a professor of pathobiological sciences who led the development of the vaccine alongside research associate Prof. Peter Halfmann. He says the vaccine leads to more protective antibodies being created in treated patients. 

“Our vaccine contains everything except one small protein … and it’s an inactivated virus, so it’s safer,” Kawaoka said. 

In the first phase of the clinical trial, 15 young men in good health will receive two doses of the experimental vaccine. Women aren’t being included in this phase to avoid any subjects who could be pregnant, as the Ebola virus poses more of a threat to pregnant women. Importantly, no subjects will be exposed to the virus in the first phase of the trial. 

If that first group tolerates the vaccine, another group of 20 subjects will get a higher dose. 

“In phase one, the main goal is safety,” Kawaoka said. 

Researchers will determine if participants’ immune systems begin developing antibodies and “immune memory” for Ebola, which would suggest they’re gaining resistance to the virus. 

See more: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2019/clinical-trial-begins-for-potential-ebola-vaccine-developed-at-uw-madison/ 

— Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce is calling for changes to state law surrounding private lobbying on behalf of local governments. 

In a recent report, WMC argues local governments are improperly using taxpayer funds to pay private groups that lobby for more local taxing and regulatory power. The report shows local government groups spent more than $5 million lobbying state government during the 2017-18 legislative session. 

Corydon Fish, WMC general counsel and director of tax, transportation and legal affairs, authored the report, calling on state lawmakers to bar local governments from hiring third-party advocacy groups and private lobbyists with taxpayer funds. 

WMC is also seeking to prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars in issue advocacy altogether and to restrict third-party lobbying groups from receiving state benefits. 

See the brief report: http://www.wmc.org/wp-content/uploads/Taxpayer-Funded-Lobbying_FINAL_LoRes.pdf 

— Monthly home sales in the state were down slightly in November, according to the latest housing report from the Wisconsin Realtors Association. 

Just over 27,000 homes were actively listed in the state last month, which is nearly 7 percent lower than the same point in 2018, the report shows. The median family home was priced at $194,000, which is 6 percent higher than November last year. 

“Even though home prices continue to rise at a robust pace, that was offset by improvements in income and lower mortgage rates, so our affordability has actually improved,” said Michael Theo, president and CEO of WRA. 

The highest median prices for November were seen in the state’s south-central region, at $239,000. By comparison, the lowest median prices were in the central region, at $148,500. 

Housing inventories were slightly lower in November, though rural counties had more than twice as many available homes as metropolitan counties. Steve Beers, board chairman for WRA, says tight inventory levels have “kept our growth in check.” 

See the release: http://www.wisbusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Nov_Release_Data_Charts_Combined.pdf 

— Federal officials are extending the open enrollment deadline to apply for health coverage on Healthcare.gov after some consumers were unable to enroll over the weekend. 

The new deadline to enroll is 2 a.m. CT on Wednesday. 

In a release, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the Healthcare.gov website and federal call center remained open through Dec. 15, which was the original deadline. But some customers were asked to leave their names at the federal call center rather than being allowed to enroll. 

In a release from OCI, Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Mark Afable says the extension is “great news” for state residents. 

“If you missed the deadline, you now have two extra days to get affordable health insurance for you or your family,” he said. 

See the CMS release: http://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-statement-health-insurance-exchange-open-enrollment-extension 

See the OCI release: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2019/office-of-the-commissioner-of-insurance-open-enrollment-on-healthcare-gov-extended/ 

— Lawmakers are circulating a bill for co-sponsorship that would limit the liability of employers who don’t test their workers for THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana. 

In a co-sponsorship memo, the legislators note current state law prohibits employment discrimination based on the use of lawful products such as tobacco. But even though cannabis is currently illegal in Wisconsin, other states in the Midwest and elsewhere have legalized it for medical or recreational use. 

The bill’s authors note that individuals in the state could easily consume products containing THC by simply driving over to a nearby state where they are legal. But since THC is detectable with drug tests for more than a month after it’s used, those individuals could fail a drug test and be fired “even though they never broke state law and were never impaired while on the clock or during the drug test.” 

Since many private sector businesses who test their employees for THC are doing so for liability reasons, the bill’s authors say their legislation would reduce the need for testing workers. 

The memo shows the bill would incorporate some “common-sense exceptions” including jobs related to safety and security, as well as positions that contract with the federal government. 

Lawmakers circulating the bill include Reps. Shae Sortwell, R-Two Rivers, and David Bowen, D-Milwaukee; and Sen. Jeff Smith, D-Eau Claire. 

See the memo: http://bit.ly/35rYzkv 

— DATCP is calling on businesses in the state to join the Something Special from Wisconsin program after recently launching a new apparel line branded with the program’s logo. 

The SSfW brand was trademarked by the agency in 1983 and more than 300 Wisconsin companies now participate. For a product to be sold under the red, white and yellow logo, at least half of its ingredients, production or processing activities must be from Wisconsin. 

“In addition to point of sales materials which include the logo in forms of stickers, banners, retail danglers, sliders and more, the new branded product line gives everyone another way to support the established program,” said Lois Federman, program director. 

All funds raised through the sale of branded merchandise will put back into the program to support more advertising, events, promotions and conferences. 

See the release: http://www.wisbusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/DATCP-SSfWBrandedProducts.pdf 

— Carrie Thome, the former chief investment officer of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, has partnered with two others to recently launch NVNG Investment Advisors. 

According to Crunchbase, NVNG — an acronym for “nothing ventured, nothing gained” — is a fund of funds that will invest in those with a Wisconsin focus. It also will offer advisory services such as venture capital fund formation.

Thome, who oversaw a $2.8 billion investment portfolio at WARF, is joined by Linda Leikness, former CFO of American Girl, and Grady Buchanan, former senior investment analyst at WARF. All three are managing directors.

NVNG currently has an office in downtown Madison.

See more at Madison Startups: http://www.madisonstartups.com/former-warf-cio-launches-venture-fund/ 


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<i>See these and other press releases: 

http://wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Content=82 </i>

UW-Madison: Ebola vaccine clinical trial in Japan

O’Leary & Anick: Nonprofit accounting firm Anick & Associates announces rebrand 

DATCP: Something Special from Wisconsin launches branded apparel and product line