A Medical Device Daily

Sontra Medical (Franklin, Massachusetts), a developer of transdermal technology, and Echo Therapeutics (Durham, North Carolina), a privately held specialty transdermal therapeutics company, reported that they have merged to form a single, publicly held company to operate under the name Echo Therapeutics.

Sontra acquired all of the outstanding shares of Echo common stock in exchange for an aggregate of 6.25 million shares of Sontra common stock. The stockholders of Sontra and former stockholders of Echo hold about 65% and 35% of the combined company’s outstanding common stock, respectively.

The companies said the merger creates a platform-enabled transdermal therapeutics and diagnostics company focused on multiple large markets for improved formulations of specialty pharmaceuticals and new applications of next generation transdermal diagnostics.

The newly combined company will have corporate offices in Philadelphia and research and development facilities in Franklin, Massachusetts and Durham, North Carolina. Patrick Mooney, MD, and Shawn Singh, both formerly of Echo, will serve as CEO and interim president of the combined company, respectively. Harry Mitchell, CPA, of Sontra, will continue to serve as COO and CFO of the combined company.

Burnham Hill Partners, a division of Pali Capital, served as financial advisor to Sontra in connection with the merger and in connection with a separate $1.325 million bridge note financing to a limited group of strategic institutional and accredited investors.

“This merger is a timely combination of two late-stage and powerful transdermal drug penetration technologies,” said Mooney. “Together, we are now ideally positioned to leverage and monetize both technologies through a continuing stream of strategic drug development and marketing partnerships. Our long-term strategic relationship with Cato Research, a highly-respected global contract research organization, will enable the combined company to maximize the output of its two core technology platforms and minimize the clinical development and regulatory risks.”

Sontra owns technology in ultrasound and skin permeation methods used in transdermal science for therapeutic and diagnostic applications, and are developing a non-invasive CTGM for use in the large diabetes home use and hospital intensive and critical care markets. Sontra’s CTGM device leverages its FDA-approved SonoPrep ultrasound-mediated skin permeation system.

Echo Therapeutics is a platform-enabled specialty transdermal therapeutics company developing a portfolio of advanced topical formulations using its Azone dermal penetration technology.

Kyphon (Sunnyvale, California) reported that it has obtained U.S. antitrust clearance with respect to its acquisition of the non-vertebroplasty spine-related assets and associated intellectual property rights of Disc-O-Tech Medical Technologies (Herzlyia, Israel), and its U.S. subsidiary, Disc Orthopaedic Technologies (Monroe Township, New Jersey).

This clearance relates to one of two definitive agreements entered into with Disc-O-Tech last December (Medical Device Daily, Dec. 22, 2006).

Completion of this acquisition, which includes the B-Twin expandable spinal system for use in minimally invasive fusion procedures, remains subject to obtaining approvals of antitrust authorities in other relevant jurisdictions. Kyphon said it expects to complete the acquisition later this year.

The acquisition is valued at up to $180 million contingent upon certain conditions

Kyphon develops devices designed to restore and preserve spinal function and diagnose the source of low back pain using minimally invasive technologies,

In other dealmaking news: Guardian Technologies International (Herndon, Virginia) developers of medical imaging and threat detection technology with applications for the healthcare and homeland security markets reported entering an agreement to acquire exclusive rights to software technology expected to significantly speed the company’s scheduled release of medical imaging Signature Mapping products. These products are designed to materially improve a radiologist’s ability to detect and treat targeted diseases.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Guardian has agreed to acquire iC Works software technology from Virginia-based Zinon, in a move that is expected to accelerate the company’s planned FDA clinical trials, potentially advancing by as much as one year federal approval for a broad range of healthcare applications.

Guardian believes the Zinon software technologies — clinical interface visualization technology and recall database structure — will enable it to accelerate the time to market for its Signature Mapping products.

The company said the Zinon software technology will enable Signature Mapping to be seamlessly integrated into existing imaging systems and conform to industry standards required by the OEMs and medical service providers. Additionally, iC Works contributes specialized archival capabilities that will allow physicians to more efficiently and easily recall and view images produced by Guardian’s Signature Mapping product line.

Signature Mapping is an advanced analysis and visualization technology that can be installed to read images from any medical imaging device, including MRIs, CT-scans and X-rays, to detect disease states in the brain, lungs, heart and prostate. It can even visualize difficult-to-distinguish breast cancer in dense breast tissue that might otherwise have gone undetected.

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