Medical Device Daily Senior

The year 2010 was quite possibly one of the toughest years in med-tech history for startup companies as the venture capital community began to reserve investment funds for more developed and later-stage companies. But that hasn't stopped one early-stage company from entering 2011 hopeful of raising the capital needed to support its innovation.

ViaTechMD (Scottsdale, Arizona), a subsidiary of TechDyne, has designed a device to treat Incompetent Cervix (IC), and various other conditions that lead to pre-term birth.

“We are struggling to fund our very promising and important device technology,“ Ben Booher, president/CTO of ViaTechMD, told Medical Device Daily. Nevertheless, he says the company is “fighting with all our heart, each step of the way, to retain momentum.“

Booher believes in the promise of his company's technology to reduce the number of pre-term births and the various complications that stem from infants being born premature. If the technology proves to be as effective as he says, it would be filling a significant unmet need.

Dubbed the Cervical Stabilization Device (CSD), the company says it is the first non-invasive, medication-free treatment designed to support a successful and natural birthing event. The device is intended to retain the developing fetus by supporting the uterus by delicate contact approximate the fornix, requires no stitching or winding of the cervix, no anesthetics or post-procedural medication and can be inserted, adjusted and removed during routine obstetric office visits when necessary, ViaTechMD says.

But raising capital to support the development of this technology has been a problem.

“When I look at the environment it is very difficult given the current economy to be involved in startups,“ Booher said. “What I've found to be frustrating, really, because of all the promises of this technology in particular, is that angel investors and venture capital investors“ that have traditionally supported early-stage technologies such as this have started to “jump ship and run off to [invest in] IT and green technologies.“

Nonetheless, Booher is looking ahead to 2011 with hopes of moving the CSD along and getting it into human clinical trials.

The company points out that its device would cost very little to produce and is made of biocompatible materials. Booher explained that previous research using non-proprietary medical devices which were not specifically designed to treat IC has been promising and has led medical experts to conclude that a device-based solution may be the most desirable treatment option for IC and related conditions.

ViaTechMD says it has established partnerships with a medical device manufacture, Saint GoBain (Courbevoie France), and a clinical research organization, Radiant Research (Cincinnati), to help it achieve its business objectives. The company says it is seeking an additional $150,000 in first round follow-on equity financing complete the first of three sets of milestones in the first stage of its business plan, which it expects will require roughly $1.1 million in overall development costs. Some of its initial goals are to complete a “mini-trial“ in humans, complete a formal regulatory review, and further develop its proof of efficacy thesis.

The company notes that by the time it completes the first stage of its business plan it expects to be in a position to join a collaboration partner to finance its remaining development costs.

According to ViaTechMD, the single existing treatment for IC is Cerclage, a surgical procedure which involves stitching or “winding“ of the cervix or surrounding tissues. Cerclage has a risk of inducing a spontaneous birthing event and requires hospitalization as well as high doses of medication that can adversely affect the mother and the developing fetus, the company said.

Booher says the CSD would provide an effective, low-risk alternative to Cerclage.

Amanda Pedersen, 309-351-7774;