Neovasc (Vancouver, British Columbia), formerly known as Medical Ventures, a company developing specialty vascular devices, reported its name change and the expansion of its product portfolio, as the company completed the acquisition of two vascular product development companies and the closing of an $8.3 million private financing.

The company's previously reported share consolidation is also now in effect. Each of these proposed actions was approved by more than 99% of eligible Medical Ventures shareholders in a special vote on June 3.

With the closing of the acquisitions of Neovasc Medical and B-Balloon, both pre-commercial-stage device companies based in Israel, Neovasc said it has significantly expanded its new product pipeline.

The pipeline includes a specialized stent for the treatment of refractory angina, a disabling condition with no effective therapies that affects 2 million patients in the U.S. alone, as well as devices designed to improve the treatment of commonly occurring ostial lesions in the coronary and peripheral arteries.

"Our existing suite of innovative vascular products is now enhanced with a number of late-stage and longer-term development products that we believe have significant commercial potential, further positioning our newly expanded company for growth," said Alexei Marko, CEO of Neovasc. "The new funds from our successful financing will enable us to further strengthen our sales and marketing efforts and to accelerate the commercialization of our new products."

CFO Christopher Clark added, "As we focus on bringing our new products to market and growing our revenues, we will continue to assess the optimal time for Neovasc to apply for a listing on the American Stock Exchange."

New investors in the $8.3 million private financing included The Frost Group, led by Dr. Phillip Frost, and Israel-based Peregrine Ventures. A number of existing investors, including Gagnon Securities and Neovasc chairman, Paul Geyer, also participated in the financing.

Dr. Jane Hsiao and Steven Rubin of The Frost Group, Boaz Lifschitz of Peregrine Ventures and Dr. William O'Neill of the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine will be joining the Neovasc board, along with Paul Geyer and current directors Alexei Marko and Douglas Janzen, president of Cardiome Pharma (Vancouver).

The other directors of Medical Ventures have retired from the Neovasc board, but former director Gene Starr will continue to serve as an active advisor to the company.

On closing the transactions, the new company's issued share capital is about 18 million shares (23 million fully diluted), including about 12 million shares, warrants and options issued in connection with the acquisitions of Neovasc Medical and B-Balloon, some three million shares and warrants issued in conjunction with the private financing and just under 2 million incentive options available under a 10% rolling plan.

In other dealmaking news, Tang Capital Partners has made a play for struggling Northstar Neuroscience (Seattle), a company that has been developing cortical stimulation technology to improve hand and arm function in stroke survivors

Tang made an unsolicited proposal to acquire Northstar in a negotiated transaction for a price of $2.25 per share in cash, which it said represents a 50% premium to the closing sale price of Northstar's common stock on July 1, and an approximate 47% premium to Northstar's volume-weighted average trading price since Jan. 22, when Northstar reported its disappointing EVEREST clinical trial results.

Hopes in the stroke sector were high for EVEREST, which was designed to determine whether cortical stimulation in conjunction with rehabilitation therapy would provide greater gains in hand and arm function for stroke victims and improve on daily living activities, compared to rehabilitation therapy alone.

Cortical stimulation therapy is a method for the precise delivery of low levels of electricity to the outer layer of the brain via an implanted stimulator system.

At the four-week follow-up, 30.8% of the patients receiving cortical stimulation achieved the threshold of clinically meaningful improvement for the composite primary efficacy endpoint defined in the study protocol, compared to 29.1% of the patients in the control group.

The primary efficacy endpoint required a 20% absolute difference between these two groups.

Further analyses of the components of the primary endpoint also failed to show a statistically meaningful difference between investigational and control subjects.

Last month, the company said it was moving forward with its PROSPECT feasibility study for cortical stimulation for depression.

PROSPECT is a multi-center, randomized, single-blind study being conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston) the University of Pittsburgh and the Medical College of Wisconsin (Milwaukee).

In the PROSPECT trial for depression, the patients received 16 weeks of active stimulation. Hamilton Depression Rating Scale scores improved by an average of 27% from baseline and the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale scores improved by 31% from baseline. The Global Assessment of Functioning (a scale used to rate the social, occupational and psychological functioning) scores improved by 50% from baseline, indicating an improvement in patients' quality of life and ability to function. Each of these rating scales indicated a continuing trend of improvement at 16 weeks.

According to PROSPECT data, out of the 12 patients who underwent cortical stimulation for depression in the trial, four had improvement greater than 50% and one had improvement right at 49%.

In an open letter to Northstar's management and shareholders, Tang, which already holds about 18% of the company's common stock and is its largest shareholder, said it has spent "considerable time analyzing Northstar and its options."

Tang said that the window for consummating the transaction is limited. "If the board is to prevent further erosion of Northstar's value, it must act quickly."

Accordingly, Tang said this non-binding proposal is contingent on its receipt of a positive response on or before July 9 and Northstar entering into a binding definitive merger agreement on or before July 23.

Northstar was founded in 1999 and has 58 employees. The company has a market capitalization of $44 million.