FRI AM News: WisBusiness: the Podcast with Nathan Chesmore, co-founder and scientific director of Agulos Biotech; Unemployment rate unchanged at 2.8 percent

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Nathan Chesmore, co-founder and scientific director for Agulos Biotech. 

This Lake Mills-based company produces a serum product based on blood plasma that is commonly used by other biotechnology companies for growing cells. Most of these companies use a competing product called fetal bovine serum, he explained. 

“It’s something that is sort of the incumbent product that everyone would like to get away from,” he said. “It’s incredibly unique because it’s a product that you can’t intentionally produce, so you can’t actually send pregnant cows intentionally to the slaughter line. It’s something you can only produce as coincidence. So that leads to certain problems with supply and pricing.” 

He said biotech firms are sometimes unable to obtain any fetal bovine serum due to these challenges, which throws a wrench into production of antibody testing kits and other medical products. 

Chesmore said his company’s product is “much cheaper” than fetal bovine serum, highlighting other benefits. 

“Typically customers can use much less and it causes cells to grow faster for about as wide a variety of cell lines that you’d find FBS works for,” he said. 

Looking ahead, he said Agulos Biotech aims to move to serum-free and animal-free formulations in the future. 

“We’d like to isolate the specific growth factors to use in serum-free media, which for regulatory reasons, people tend to like,” he said. “There’s not as much of a risk for viral contamination and other variability that comes from having all the other components that are present in animal serum. We’re getting pretty close to having a product that can replicate all the performance of serum.” 

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— Wisconsin’s unemployment rate in April remained unchanged at 2.8 percent, matching the record low rate from March. 

That’s according to the latest federal data released by the state Department of Workforce Development. The agency’s release shows Wisconsin’s unemployment rate remains below the national rate of 3.6 percent for April. 

During a media briefing, DWD Chief Economist Dennis Winters said the state has set a new record for overall employment with 3,058,000 people employed, for an increase of 54,800 over the year. 

Meanwhile, total nonfarm jobs in April remained “about 65,000 jobs short of the pre-COVID peak, but that’s about 98 percent of where we were pre-COVID,” Winters said yesterday. He explained the jobs figures and overall employment numbers differ as they come from two different surveys. 

Winters also noted the state’s leisure and hospitality sector, which saw major job losses during the pandemic, added 1,600 jobs over the month and 31,500 jobs over the year. 

“So good gains there, but they’re still down about 13,700 jobs from the peak, and that’s 95 percent of the previous peak,” he said. 

See the DWD release here: 

— Harley-Davidson announced it will be suspending most vehicle assembly and shipments for two weeks due to supply chain issues. 

The move doesn’t include the company’s LiveWire electric motorcycle, according to a release from the Milwaukee manufacturer. 

“This decision, taken out of an abundance of caution, is based on information provided by a third-party supplier to Harley-Davidson late on Tuesday (5/17) concerning a regulatory compliance matter relating to the supplier’s component part,” the company said yesterday in a statement. 

See the release: 

— A new study from UW Health found its lupus clinic reduced the time needed for diagnosis by 40 percent. 

UW Health’s lupus clinic was launched in 2018 and is staffed by a group of physicians, pharmacists and social workers. 

By comparing the results for lupus patients over the seven years prior to its opening to results from clinic patients, study authors found the time for completing a diagnostic kidney biopsy fell from 26 days to 16 days on average. 

The study focused on patients with lupus nephritis, a complication of the immune disease that targets the kidneys. The UW Health release shows patients with this complication are 10 times more likely to develop “end stage kidney disease” and are 26 times more likely to die than other patients in their age range. 

“These findings are encouraging, because we know that delays in diagnosing and treating lupus nephritis can lead to irreversible kidney damage,’’ said Dr. Shivani Garg, an assistant professor of medicine at UW School of Medicine and Public Health, rheumatologist at UW Health and study co-author. 

Lupus is more likely to affect women aged 15-44, particularly women of color, the release shows. Before the clinic opened, 26 percent of the lupus nephritis patients were non-white. But that percentage rose to 48 percent after the clinic was opened, study authors found. 

The study was published online in the scientific journal Open Rheumatology, operated by the American College of Rheumatology. 

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See the release: 

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— The state Public Service Commission has announced $790,000 in new funding for the state’s telemedicine program. 

The grant funds will support 12 projects purchasing telemedicine equipment to boost access to medical services in rural or underserved areas, as well as for people with disabilities. 

According to the PSC release, the agency got 15 applications requesting about $1.1 million in funding. In the previous grant round in 2020, the PSC awarded $1 million for 16 grants after receiving 19 applications requesting nearly $1.2 million in funding. 

PSC Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq says the newly funded projects “will reduce the risk of blindness in patients due to diabetic retinopathy, will connect patients with specialists without needing to be physically transferred to another facility, and reduce hospital readmission rates for at-home patients.”

See the list of recipients and grant totals here: 

See the release: 


# 6 injured in explosion and fire at Wisconsin pier factory

# Harley-Davidson stops motorcycle manufacturing for 2 weeks

# Business support needed to curb downtown crime: Milwaukee Police chief



– April milk production falls short of 2021 levels in Wisconsin


– Explosion, fire rock dock construction company in Waukesha County

– Firefighters continue to battle blaze at Eagle marine construction facility

– Explosion rocks Eagle construction company; at least 6 injured


– Wisconsin unemployment rate held steady in April


– Report: Relief funds for Wisconsin schools are going to technology, health, safety and COVID-learning recovery

– Nineteen Janesville teachers to retire this year, taking more than 500 years of experience with them


– Southern, western Wisconsin under enhanced risk for severe thunderstorms Thursday evening

– Lawmakers pushing bill to delist wolves from endangered list


– Four Wisconsin medical office buildings sold in $28.4 million portfolio deal


– Milwaukee is stepping up youth curfew enforcement, but questions loom over the plan’s effectiveness

– In pre-Roe Wisconsin, death certificates often hid deaths from illegal abortions


– Harley-Davidson shares fall as production is suspended for 2 weeks

– Harley-Davidson stock falls as company suspends assembly and shipments for two weeks

– Harley-Davidson suspending assembly and shipments for two weeks


– Milwaukee Youth Arts Center names new executive director


– After pandemic delay, 11-story Walker’s Point apartment project to begin soon

– Former West Bend Shopko building sold to Texas investor for $4.2 million


– Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass names interim execs for key roles, details inflation’s impact

– Kohl’s sales fell in Q1 following activist investor pressure, leadership departure


– Milwaukee Bucks saw off-court successes this past season, says president Peter Feigin

– Most of Lambeau sold out for Man City-Bayern match, hotel rooms scarce


– Milwaukee’s Socialeads reaches new industry with Marathon Laundry partnership

– Four local companies make it to final round of Governor’s Business Plan Contest


– Dairyland Power considering next generation nuclear power plant


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