Medical Device Daily

NovaVision (Boca Raton, Florida) reported that it has secured $20 million in Series C funding. NovaVision said the financing enables it to continue expanding the national availability of its Vision Restoration Therapy (VRT).

According to the company, the device is the first and only FDA-cleared, patented, non-invasive medical device designed to enhance vision in people who have been left partially blind as the result of stroke or brain trauma.

Chicago Growth Partners led the round, which also included first-time investors Johnson & Johnson Development and Oakwood Medical Investors. Also participating in the financing were existing investors Tullis-Dickerson & Co., Noro-Moseley Partners and Crossbow Ventures.

Navroze Mehta, co-founder and CEO of NovaVision, told Medical Device Daily that the company’s immediate goal with the $20 million Series C funding is to increase awareness of its VRT therapy and the number of eye centers that offer NovaVision therapy to make it more accessible for patients.

Through its VRT therapy, NovaVision aims to provide greater independence to the roughly 2.2 million stroke and brain injury survivors in the U.S. who suffer from major visual field deficits, a number increasing by more than 90,000 every year.

Since 2004, NovaVision says that through its growing national network of 43 centers it has treated more than 1,000 patients.

The hope is that stroke and brain injury patients are able to significantly improve or restore their vision to allow them to do things they once enjoyed, such as reading, and Mehta said 65% of the patients who have received NovaVision VRT have shown vision improvements.

VRT is based on the concept of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to adapt and form new connections to compensate for injury. NovaVision diagnostic testing maps areas where vision may be improved, and therapy targets and stimulates regions within the brain’s vision- processing areas.

The therapy typically is performed at home on a computerized device. With the patient’s eyes focused on a fixation point on the screen, specifically engineered stimuli are applied to the areas that show potential for recovery. Repeated exposure to these stimuli over a period of six months activates neurons and helps improve vision (MDD, March 17, 2004).

The initial therapy typically lasts six months. In this phase, a patient will perform one hour of daily therapy prescribed in time intervals based upon individual needs and abilities. NovaVision evaluates patients’ results, and the individual therapy is updated based on the next four weeks of therapy, along with a summary of progress. Later, the patient returns to a partner clinic to receive an updated program.

Since its founding in 2003, privately held NovaVision has raised more than $39 million from venture capital sources, including Series A $6 million (MDD, Sept. 30, 2003) and Series B $12 million (MDD, Feb. 23, 2005).

“The addition of new investors and the continued support of existing financial partners is a compelling endorsement for NovaVision and its demonstrated ability to restore sight and confidence to people who have suffered a stroke or brain injury,” said Mehta.

According to the company, VRT is based on more than 10 years of research, with studies published in leading journals such as Nature Medicine, Neurology, and The Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. Data from a recent retrospective study identified that more than 70% of U.S. patients who underwent VRT for an initial six-month treatment period showed significant improvements in their vision, the company said.

“NovaVision’s VRT addresses a large, unmet medical need. The company’s strong management team and patient-oriented strategy should enable it to rapidly penetrate the market,” said Arda Minocherhomjee, founding partner of Chicago Growth Partners. “We anticipate more new developments from NovaVision.”

NovaVision received 510(k) clearance from the FDA for its VRT in April 2003. The company offers VRT through institutions including: Bascom Palmer Eye Institute-University of Miami (Miami); Neurological Institute of New York at Columbia University Medical Center (New York); Emory Healthcare Eye Center (Atlanta); Doheny Eye Institute at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles); Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU Medical Center; Scripps Medical Hospital (Encinitas, California); Johns Hopkins University, Wilmer Eye Institute (Baltimore); three Sharp rehabilitation hospitals in San Diego, California, and six HealthSouth rehabilitation hospitals.

“At the time of the Series B funding we had only nine centers [offering VRT] so you can see the very significant progress we’ve made . . . we now have 43 centers,” Mehta told MDD.

Before joining NovaVision Mehta co-founded Dermdex, a company that specialized in practice efficiency solutions for dermatologists and plastic surgeons. He also managed the sale of Dermdex to Salu, a California-based, venture-backed company.

“When you assess the medical device landscape, what’s abundantly clear is that NovaVision is well prepared and positioned to continue making considerable advances in how neuroscience is applied to restoring vision and, consequently, simple life pleasures such as reading, walking and time spent with friends and family,” said Roger Guidi, VP of Johnson & Johnson Development.

In other financing news: Medical Action Industries (Hauppauge, New York) reported that the company’s board has authorized a 3-for-2 stock split in the form of a 50% stock dividend payable on or about February 8, to stockholders of record as of January 23. Fractional share amounts will be paid in cash based on the closing market price on the record date. The split is Medical Action Industries’ first since becoming a publicly-traded company in December 1984, and will increase the total number of shares of common stock outstanding to about 15,900,000 million.

Medical Action makes disposable medical devices. Its products are marketed primarily to acute care facilities in domestic and certain international markets.