Wisconsin companies are helping to define the future of personalized medicine through their scientific research and innovations; sessions at the 2023 Wisconsin Biohealth Summit, held Oct. 17 at the Overture Center in Madison, detailed some of these efforts.

Personalized medicine is health care that is customized for an individual patient, such as determining which treatment is most likely to result in a positive outcome for that particular patient.

Lisa Johnson, CEO of BioForward Wisconsin, which presented the summit, said personalized medicine is a paradigm shift. “You are changing Wisconsin,” she told conference attendees.

A panel discussion on innovations in personalized medicine highlighted some of the developments around the state.

  • At the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, a new initiative is combining imaging biomarkers with the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide more precise information about not only the location of cancerous tumors but also about their borders and their stage of progression. “We can now diagnose disease at a very early stage,” said Anjon Audhya, senior associate dean for basic research, biotechnology, and graduate studies. “It will enable us to start treatment immediately.” The new Wisconsin Institute for Theranostics and Particle Therapy is receiving $1.5 million from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and $8 million from the National Institutes of Health. (The word “theranostics” is derived from “therapeutics” and “diagnostics.”)
  • A Milwaukee company, RPRD Diagnostics, uses genetic analysis to determine which medication is most likely to help an individual patient and how big the dose should be. RPRD’s test can identify rare genetic variations that can change the body’s response to a potential treatment, said founder and CEO Ulrich Broeckel. The goal is to “maximize drug efficacy and limit adverse reactions,” he said.
  • Danaher, a global business whose companies include Madison-based Aldevron, sees itself as a partner to biopharmaceutical companies and aims to sharply reduce the time it takes to bring lifesaving therapies to market, said Chris Riley, vice president and group executive. Aldevron produces proteins and enzymes used for drug development. The company expanded its labs and offices from 8,000 square feet to nearly 30,000 square feet in 2021.
  • Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, also in Madison, is working on a series of drugs using RNA interference, which silences the genes that cause certain diseases. The company, based in Pasadena, California, recently renovated its 110,000-square-foot facility in Madison and is building a new campus in Verona that will include a 160,000-square-foot manufacturing building and 125,000-square-foot lab and office building. Arrowhead expects to hire about 100 new employees over the next three years, said Leslie Lemke-Boutcher, vice president of nonclinical toxicology. “This is happening here in Wisconsin,” she said.

About 550 people attended this year’s Wisconsin Biohealth Summit.