A Medical Device Daily

Avantis Medical Systems (Sunnyvale, California) reported the closing of $10 million in Series C funding.

The funding was led by MC Silicon Valley / Mitsubishi International and joined by existing investors including Montreux Equity Partners, Thomas Fogarty, MD and CN Investment Partners. In connection with the Series C funding, Noboru Ohrui, manager of Healthcare Solutions at Mitsubishi International, has been elected to Avantis' board of directors.

Avantis said it plans to use the financing to establish selected centers of excellence across the U.S. to facilitate the commercial launch of its Third Eye Retroscope, to collect Level 1 evidence to further support its clinical utility, and to fund sales and marketing efforts.

"We are pleased to have raised this financing in an extremely tough market, and to have earned the confidence of Mitsubishi International as well as the continued trust and support of our existing investors," said Scott Dodson, president/CEO of Avantis. "We are looking forward to this year's commercial launch, and to pursuing our mission of delivering cost-effective solutions for improved detection and prevention of cancers of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract."

"Avantis Medical has developed an effective and promising new technology to improve upon the gold standard procedure in colon cancer care," Mitsubishi's Ohrui said. "This is an exciting time in the life cycle of Avantis Medical and we are proud to be a part of it."

Avantis makes the Third Eye Retroscope, an imaging device used in conjunction with a standard colonoscope that provides a retrograde (backward) view of the colon that complements the forward view of the colonoscope. Operating as a "rear view mirror," in conjunction with a standard colonoscope, the Third Eye Retroscope helps to visualize blind spots in the colon. The device is FDA 510(k) cleared for providing additional illumination and visualization during colonoscopy, and also has its CE mark for distribution in the EU.

"Used during colonoscopy, the Third Eye Retroscope helps visualize blind spots, allowing the physician to see more of the colon and potentially find more polyps and adenomas," Dodson said.

Colorectal cancer is the second-greatest cause of cancer death in the U.S. and in Europe, Avantis noted. However, most cancers of the lower GI tract can be successfully treated if detected early, the company said. Even more cases can be prevented if pre-cancerous lesions can be removed before they become malignant.

Avantis said the most recent Third Eye Retroscope study indicated that, when used in combination with a standard forward-viewing colonoscope, the device revealed areas that are often hidden from the standard colonoscope, and increased polyp detection rates by 13% by providing visualization of the colon behind folds and flexures. The same study showed a 10.9% increase over the colonoscope alone, in detection of adenomas.

Moreover, the study suggested that while the Third Eye Retroscope is effective in detecting additional polyps in the left colon, it is 10.6% more effective in detecting additional lesions in the right colon compared to the left colon.

In other financing activity:

• ArthroCare (Austin, Texas) said it received a waiver from the lenders and administrative agent under its credit agreement of the event of default relating to the delisting of the company's stock. The company said it has prepaid $10 million of the principal amount (plus accrued and unpaid interest) outstanding under the agreement.

Management believes that, following the partial repayment under the credit agreement, based on the company's current operating and capital expenditure forecasts, the combination of funds currently available and funds to be generated from operations will be adequate to finance the its ongoing operations for the short and long-term.

The company also said it received notice last Thursday that the Nasdaq Listing and Hearing Review Council has rejected its request for a review. As a result the Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Panel's decision to suspend trading of and delist the company's common stock on the Nasdaq stock market became effective at the open of trading Friday.

ArthroCare makes minimally invasive surgical products. Many of its products are based on its Coblation technology, which uses low-temperature radio frequency energy to dissolve rather than burn soft tissue – minimizing, it said, damage to healthy tissue. Coblation-based devices have been developed for sports medicine; spine/neurologic; ear, nose and throat; cosmetic; urologic and gynecologic procedures.

• Cardio3 BioSciences (Mont-Saint-Guibert, Belgium), a Belgian biotech company specializing in cell-based therapies for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, said it has raised €7.2 million in a Series B financing round. The new funds, which have come from new and existing investors, will be used to finance the clinical development of Cardio3's lead product C-Cure, the company said.

C-Cure is a therapy designed to allow the differentiation of a patient's own cells into 'cardiopo etic' cells which grow into new heart cells and repair heart muscle. The company plans to enrol shortly about 240 patients in a clinical trial with C-Cure to evaluate its potential in the treatment of heart failure.

In parallel with this equity funding, Cardio3 said it has raised a further 16.5 million in cash advances from the Walloon Region General Directorate for Economy, Employment & Research. These funds, which bear no interest, become repayable on the commercialization of C-Cure.

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