ImaRx Therapeutics (Tucson, Arizona) and Royal Philips Electronics (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) reported a new research alliance focused on using Philips' ultrasound technology as part of ImaRx's SonoLysis program to develop a new treatment for acute ischemic stroke.

Philips will provide ultrasound devices and technical assistance to ImaRx during lab and preclinical studies. The companies are trying to determine the optimal ultrasound parameters to use with ImaRx's MRX-801 microbubble technology.

"ImaRx chose to partner with Philips specifically because Philips already has an emphasis on stroke and imaging of the brain," ImaRx CFO Greg Cobb told Cardiovascular Device Update. "It's one of the few areas where there's a drug/device combination using our microbubble technology that's therapeutic rather than diagnostic."

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Cobb said the potential for the end product is vast because there is a large unmet medical need for patients with ischemic stroke. Of the approximate 700,000 patients who experience stroke each year in the U.S., 600,000 are ischemic and only a small fraction of those patients receive tPA, the only FDA-approved therapy.

The ImaRx SonoLysis program is focused on the development of products that involve the administration of its MRX-801 microbubbles and ultrasound to break up blood clots and restore blood flow to oxygen-deprived tissues with or without a thrombolytic drug.

The sub-micron size of MRX-801 microbubbles may allow them to penetrate a blood clot and break it into very small particles.

The agreement includes a mutual exclusivity clause during the term of the collaboration. Following completion of research, Philips and ImaRx will renegotiate to discuss future development and commercialization.

In September, ImaRx received approval from the data and safety monitoring board to proceed with the second dose cohort in its TUCSON (Transcranial Ultrasound in Clinical SONoLysis) Phase I/II dose escalation study evaluating SonoLysis + tPA therapy in patients with acute ischemic stroke.