TUE AM News: Voximetry gets FDA approval for assessment tool; UW-Madison joining NIH harm reduction network

— A Madison startup called Voximetry has gotten FDA clearance for a tool that can estimate the amount of radiation absorbed by patients following treatment or diagnosis with radiopharmaceuticals. 

This class of drugs uses radioactive isotopes for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. The amount of radiation used for diagnostics is typically very low, as the drug passes through or is absorbed by the target organ and is used to detect cancers or tumors there, according to an overview from the Mayo Clinic. 

But when used to treat cancer and some other diseases, a higher dose is usually used as the radioactive agent must be able to destroy the affected tissue.  

In a statement, Voximetry CEO Sue Wallance said the agency’s approval represents “an important first step on the path to accurate personalized treatments that may include increased tumor response or improved protection for critical organs.” 

The Torch Dose Assessment for Radiopharmaceutical Therapy product is now available for clinical use in the United States, the company recently announced. 

First launched in 2016 by a group of medical physics experts, the company has developed a software platform for personalizing radiopharmaceutical therapies for patients with late-stage cancers such as prostate cancer. 

Wallace last year won the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce’s Pressure Chamber pitch contest for this work. 

See a story on that contest here: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/voximetry-heading-to-silicon-valley-as-it-looks-to-raise-2-5m-in-seed-funding/ 

See more at Madison Startups: https://www.madisonstartups.com/voximetry-gets-fda-clearance/ 

— The state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Ryan Westergaard, will be leading a UW-Madison research project aimed at reducing overdose deaths in Wisconsin. 

The university is one of nine in the country joining a national research network coordinated by the National Institutes of Health to study harm reduction strategies, according to a recent release. Such strategies directly engage with drug users to prevent disease transmissions and overdoses. 

Westergaard is also a professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. His research team will be testing “remote intervention tools” such as overdose hotlines and secure smartphone applications linking those with addiction to supportive resources. Their work will focus on underserved residents in both urban and rural parts of the state. 

“There are important unanswered questions about how they can best be implemented, and whether novel and emerging strategies are feasible and acceptable to the diverse communities affected by drug addiction in the United States,” Westergaard said in the UW release. 

The Milwaukee-based nonprofit Vivent Health will also be participating in the UW-Madison-led effort. This organization provides resources for HIV/AIDS patients in Wisconsin, Colorado, Missouri and Texas. Westergaard notes Vivent Health staff have built “trusted relationships with people who use drugs in numerous Wisconsin communities,” including many people with severe addiction. 

According to the university, the NIH award for the study is expected to provide $3.5 million in total funding over a five-year period. It’s funded by the federal agency’s Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative. 

See more on the study here: https://www.wispolitics.com/2022/uw-madison-joins-national-harm-reduction-research-network-to-prevent-overdose-deaths 

— State officials are launching a new housing program for people with addiction, supported by funding from part of the state’s opioid settlement from the McKinsey & Company. 

Gov. Tony Evers recently announced the creation of the Recovery Voucher Program with $2 million in initial funding, going toward “affordable, safe and stable housing” for those with opioid addiction who are homeless. 

Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge said in a release that basic needs such as housing and food “need to be met before anyone can overcome an illness” such as opioid addiction. 

“Too often individuals in treatment and recovery for substance use disorder lack the safe and stable housing necessary to support them in their journey,” she said in Evers’ release. 

The program will be operated by the Department of Administration’s Division of Energy, Housing and Community Resources. 

See more program details: https://energyandhousing.wi.gov/Pages/AgencyResources/RecoveryVoucherGrant.aspx 

See the release: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WIGOV/bulletins/33ef4be 

— Wisconsin dairy groups say new federal funding coming to the Midwest will help support the state’s agricultural industries and the rural communities they support. 

According to the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association and the Center for Dairy Research, the latest federal omnibus spending package allocates $23 million for the national Dairy Business Innovation Initiative, including $7.67 million for the Dairy Business Innovation Alliance in the Midwest. 

The DBIA was created through the 2018 Farm Bill, and has administered over $7 million to 88 dairy farms and processors, the release shows. It caters to an 11-state region including Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota. These states collectively make up 35 percent of U.S. milk production and half of the nation’s dairy farms. 

John Lucey, director of the CDR in Madison, says the new federal funds will provide “critical research dollars and direct-to-business grants that support new export endeavors, the creation of value-added dairy products, and the diversification of revenue streams for family-owned dairy farms.” 

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/wisconsin-cheese-makers-association-center-for-dairy-research-applaud-23m-in-federal-funding-for-dbii/ 

— Alliant Energy has finished its latest solar development in Wisconsin — the North Rock Solar Project — and plans to complete at least two more in 2023. 

That’s according to a recent release from the Madison-based utility, which says it’s now the largest owner-operator of solar power in the state. 

The newly completed 473-acre site in Rock County includes 120,000 solar panels and can generate enough energy to power about 13,000 homes. It’s the third utility-scale solar project that Alliant completed in 2022, the release shows. 

The utility says it expects to bring online two more solar projects this year: the Albany Solar and Paddock Solar sites, both located within 25 miles of the Rock County installation. 

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/alliant-energy-solar-spotlight-shines-on-southern-wisconsin/ 


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