A Medical Device Daily

PixelOptics (Roanoke, Virginia) said it has closed on a $30 million round of financing led by Longitude Capital and with additional investors: The Carlyle Group, Delphi Ventures, Stark Investments, Life Science Angels and others. Other existing PixelOptics investors include Panasonic Ventures.

"We believe that PixelOptics is well positioned to become a key player in the growing lens market," said Juliet Bakker, managing director of Longitude Capital

In July, Longitude unveiled a $325 million venture capital fund (Longitude Venture Partners, L.P.) dedicated to life science investments.

PixelOptics was founded in 2005 to optimize the patented electro-active optical technology and other advances to revolutionize the visual experience of spectacle lens wearers. Pixel is developing a complete family of products. The first of these products is the recently introduced atLast! Enhanced Multifocal Lenses. These lenses are being launched to compete within the lined multifocal lens market, which represents about 45 million pairs sold globally each year.

BAROnova (Goleta, California) reported the closing of its Series B financing of $7.5 million, led by a strategic investment from Allergan (Irvine, California), a global multi-specialty healthcare company with a leading portfolio in obesity intervention devices. Series A investors, Arboretum Ventures, Highland Capital Partners and ONSET Ventures, filled out the round.

The proceeds will be used to continue the clinical development of BAROnova's non-surgical, non-pharmacologic TransPyloric Shuttle (TPS) weight-loss technology, and to fund ongoing operations. This brings total investment in BAROnova to date to $14 million.

BAROnova's weight loss technology uses a mechanical approach that ideally causes the patient's stomach to fill up more quickly and to stay full longer, triggering the body's natural intake-reduction processes. The TPS is inserted — and later removed — entirely through the mouth, using simple endoscopic procedures. According to the company, the TPS is potentially much safer, easier to use, and more cost effective than other approaches on the market, and requires no surgery.

"Clinical obesity and its side effects, such as diabetes, are a significant health problem in the U.S. and elsewhere and safe and effective intervention presents real market opportunities," said Rob Kuhling, managing director of ONSET Ventures, a co-investor. "BAROnova's technology speaks directly to a segment for whom surgical or medical intervention is too risky, too expensive, or otherwise contraindicated."

Investor Corey Mulloy, of Highland Capital, added, "Current obesity intervention devices are only approved, with certain exceptions, for patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher. The World Health Organization classifies as obese any person with a BMI of 30 or above. BAROnova's TPS technology is targeted at the extensive, un-served population with a BMI of 30 and above."

According to a 2006 report from the U.S. Center for Disease Control, 20% of the U.S. population is obese, with a BMI of 30 or greater. But less than approximately 25% of those obese individuals exceed the BMI 40 threshold. The rest are below. "BAROnova is potentially providing new therapy to these millions upon millions of individuals," added Mulloy. "This is important technology."

In other financing news:

• Stryker (Kalamazoo, Michigan) reported that its board has authorized the company to repurchase up to an additional $250 million of its common stock. This authorization follows the completion of the previously disclosed $750 million share repurchase program. Under the $750 million program, completed the first week of October, the company purchased 11.6 million shares of common stock.

Purchases under the newly authorized program may be made from time to time in the open market, in privately negotiated transactions or otherwise. The manner, timing and amount of any purchases will be determined by the company's management based on their evaluation of market conditions, stock price and other factors. The company reported that it had 403.7 million shares of common stock outstanding as of Sept. 30.

Stryker is one of the world's largest medical technology companies with the most broadly based range of products in orthopedics and a significant presence in other medical specialties.

The Northeastern Ohio venture development organization JumpStart reported the close of an equity investment commitment of $380,000 in VasoLux MicroSystems (Elyria, Ohio), a company developing a minimally invasive device that measures the quality of cartilage.

VasoLux believes the technology will aid in not only identifying osteoarthritis but also in determining the most effective treatment plan.

The VasoLux device uses a disposable fiber optic probe that emits light in the mid-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The company's chief technology officer, Dr. Subba Shankar, has continued to develop the technology, which will provide physicians with a numerical cartilage quality "score" based on the amount of light absorbed by the probe. VasoLux is currently assessing cartilage samples in order to create an initial scoring database according to the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) guidelines. This score will add a quantitative element to an analysis test that has been primarily qualitative to date.

Shankar and VasoLux general manager, Elliot Reed, have received previous funding from the Innovation Fund of the Lorain County Community College Foundation and plan to use JumpStart's investment to further develop the prototype and begin clinical trials.