TUE AM News: Exact Sciences developing framework for new cancer test; Evers signs bills on guardianship training, discrimination in organ transplants

— Through a partnership with Philadelphia-based Jefferson Health, Exact Sciences is creating a support framework for a blood-based cancer screening test in development. 

“We’re trying to really understand behaviors, attitudes, and potentially fears about this kind of new test and technology before we actually launch it in the marketplace,” said David Harding, senior vice president of Thrive, a subsidiary of the Madison-based diagnostics company. 

In a recent interview, he explained that rolling out a new test like this can cause “a lot of confusion” for both doctors and their patients. By simulating aspects of the testing and follow-up process with patients at the health system, the partnership aims to determine what kinds of educational materials, navigational aids and other support should be offered to supplement the test. 

Patients that participate in the simulation will provide feedback through surveys, which Harding says will be used to understand how people are thinking and feeling about the process. He said this process aims to tap “a broad swathe of the population” served by Jefferson Health in parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, particularly individuals from underserved communities. 

“We believe fundamentally that having a blood-based multi-cancer early detection test is going to be a great way to close some of the access gaps that we see in underserved populations,” Harding said. “We recognize that there are different patients with different experiences, and we want to make sure that we’re covering all the different segments of the population.” 

The MCED test is still in the development phase.  Harding says that process will be finalized “in the early part of 2022,” with an FDA study planned for the second half of next year. That study will run for several years, and Jefferson Health will be participating as a trial location, building on the existing partnership. 

The test is meant for average-risk people approximately 50-90 years old. It’s designed to detect multiple types of cancer before symptoms occur to achieve better clinical outcomes. By combining the physical testing process with a machine learning system, the test will “improve with every person screened,” according to the company’s website. 

Exact Sciences is also developing a service for interpreting results, coordinating follow-up testing and facilitating oncology care in the case of a positive test result. Unlike Cologuard, the Madison company’s at-home colon cancer screening test, the MCED test will require patients to get their blood drawn through their care provider or at a testing laboratory. Both tests can be obtained only after seeing a physician and getting a prescription, Harding said. 

The FDA study starting next year will include a group of patients getting their blood drawn and receiving test results, along with a control group that will have their blood drawn but won’t receive results. 

“So you can think about patients who are testing positive and what their journey would be, and those who test negative and how they get cycled back into the screening pool,” he said. “Ultimately what we’re trying to determine is, can we detect cancer earlier in various patient populations and are we improving on current standards of care?” 

In the meantime, the planning and simulation process is underway at Jefferson Health’s primary care network, which includes more than 100 facilities serving more than 125,000 adults who are eligible for cancer screening. The effort is being supported by primary care doctors, population health scientists, administrators and others, including specialists at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia. 

See details on the MCED test here: https://www.exactsciences.com/innovative-science/the-pipeline/Multi-Cancer-Early-Detection 

— Two bills Gov. Tony Evers recently signed into law will ensure people with disabilities benefit from informed guardianship and equal access to organ transplants. 

One of the new laws requires that anyone becoming a guardian for people with disabilities or elderly adults must complete training covering a number of topics. 

According to the bill text, these include: the duties of guardians under state law including the limits of their decision-making authority, alternatives to guardianship like supported decision-making and powers of attorney, the rights retained by a ward, how to best include a ward in decision-making, how to remove a guardianship, planning for a standby or successor guardian, and available resources and support. 

“Everyone involved in a guardianship — but especially the ward — will benefit from this new training requirement,” said Disability Rights Wisconsin Managing Attorney Mitch Hagopian in a statement. 

Meanwhile, the second new law aims to ban discrimination against those with disabilities in the organ transplant process, according to DRW. In a release, the group says that people with disabilities “have often been treated differently” when being considered for organ transplants, leading to fewer people with disabilities receiving transplants. Hospitals may consider a patient’s disability in evaluating transplant options only if it is medically relevant. 

“The specific protections in the new law will guarantee that people with disabilities have equal access to this life saving treatment,” DRW said in a release. 

Evers signed both bills into law on Friday. 

See the new law on training for guardians: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2021/related/acts/97 

See the law related to organ transplants: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2021/related/acts/113 

— Forty-seven nonprofits organizations in the state have received more than $367,000 in the second round of pandemic recovery grant funding from Wisconsin Humanities. 

With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Wisconsin Humanities previously awarded more than $422,000 in recovery grant funding to 52 organizations. 

Funding can be used by the recipient nonprofits to pay for salaries and utility bills, strategic planning and cultural programming, and digitization of historical information within communities across the state. Dena Wortzel, executive director of Wisconsin Humanities, says the group received 123 applications asking for more than $1.7 million in funding. 

“Clearly, a great deal of need remains for these cultural organizations,” Wortzel said in a release. “We know our grants help them maintain their operations and find ways to bring educational and cultural programs back to their communities as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Grants were awarded based on recipients’ level of need, location, prior public humanities work, audience served, and how impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic would be addressed. Wortzel says the organization also “made special efforts” to provide funding to groups working with underserved communities. 

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/WisHumanitiesPRRecoveryRnd2Final.pdf 

See the list of recipients: https://wisconsinhumanitiesrecovery.org/ 

— The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is providing a $150,000 grant to a pilot program supporting computer science education in Brown County. 

The Computer Science Talent Ecosystem Youth project is being undertaken by Cooperative Education Service Agency 7, Microsoft and Brown County schools, offering teacher training and help with curriculum. It’s being run as a pilot program in Brown County, but could expand to cover more of the state if the effort is successful. 

That’s according to CESA 7 Agency Administrator Jeff Dickert, who says the WEDC Targeted Industry Projects grant will help maintain the project’s momentum. 

“We have the talent in our schools to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow in the computer science world,” Dickert said in a release. “The training we are providing to educators and the partnerships we are establishing with businesses will make students successful in the classroom and the workforce.” 

The funding was announced yesterday by Gov. Tony Evers and WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes at the Howard-Suamico School District. 

See the release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2021/gov-evers-wedc-announce-150000-grant-for-computer-science-education-pilot-program/ 

— Six diverse projects from UW-Madison researchers are eligible for the WARF’s annual Innovation Awards, which provide two winning teams with $10,000 each. 

This year’s winners will be announced next week through WARF’s holiday greeting email after being selected by a panel of independent judges. Prize money will be split among the contributing inventors. 

“Our Innovation Awards recognize some of the most exciting early-stage solutions to real-world problems,” said Erik Iverson, CEO of WARF. “From human health to a renewable future, these technologies could produce broad benefits for humankind.”

Nominated research projects include an imaging system for detecting explosives, a method for making analysis of light patterns easier, a “green” synthesis method for making industrial polymers, a new way to treat intestinal disorders through probiotics, sound-reflecting panels for indoor acoustic control, and a way to make tumors easier to treat with nanoparticles. 

Sign up for the announcement email here: https://www.warf.org/warf-programming-updates/ 

See the WARF release: https://www.warf.org/news/countdown-to-2021-warf-innovation-awards/ 

See a recent story on one of the nominees: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2021/researcher-developing-paneling-system-for-greater-acoustic-control/ 

— A virtual luncheon today will explore how the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement will play a role in North America’s pandemic recovery. 

WisPolitics.com, WisBusiness.com and the Wisconsin Technology Council are hosting the free event from noon to 1 p.m. 

While the United States, Canada and Mexico continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers across the Americas must find ways to implement and advance the “new NAFTA” in order to aid the economic recovery. 

Hear from Canadian and Mexican officials and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. about how USMCA will impact Wisconsin businesses and economic recovery. Panelists include: Aaron Annable, representing the Canadian consulate in Chicago; Julien Adem, representing the Mexican consulate in Milwaukee; and Stanley Pfrang, senior market development director for WEDC. 

See event details and register here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc21GwxauzVq2RONLJi6Tv2IXwQfglgNBxmp3cyOTCV3RQLRw/viewform 


# Mushrooms being tested for cleaning up contaminated soil

# Marcus Theatres see promising initial results from pilot of vaccine-only movies


# Milwaukee Tool, Milky Way Tech Hub partner to offer computer science education for middle school students




– State cheese output drops after nine months of increases


– Hicken earns WFBF Distinguished Service Award posthumously



– Cobalt ‘immediately’ moving forward with $84 million Bayside project following village approval


– La Crosse seeks to make homeless population a ‘top priority’


– UW-Green Bay’s Kwanzaa celebration highlights how to support Black-owned businesses



– Frank Productions execs: New theater wouldn’t compete with existing Milwaukee venues



– Wisconsin’s fall wolf hunt is on hold. Several lawsuits could affect whether it moves forward.



– Health care providers are in limbo after federal court blocks COVID-19 vaccine mandate for staff


– About 87K Wisconsin children have gotten COVID-19 vaccine, but some vaccinated parents are still hesitant when it comes to their kids


– Hospital lawsuits over unpaid bills on the rise in Wisconsin, study says


– Illinois-based behavioral health system plans Glendale location


– NVNG makes first two investments after closing on $40 million raise


– Wisconsin ag export bill signed into law



– These are the most apartment-crazed Milwaukee neighborhoods, according to RentCafe


– Milwaukee’s Sherman Phoenix serving as model for Illinois development



– This Madison florist’s dried flowers have real stamen-a



– Wangard looks to break bottlenecks for trucks on new Franklin warehouse


– Wisconsin agencies get nearly $4M to help transport seniors, people with disabilities


<i>See these and other press releases: 

https://www.wisbusiness.com/press-releases/ </i>

World Dairy Expo: Search underway for next general manager

Milwaukee Repertory Theater: Announces complete cast and creative teams for Toni Stone and Piano Men