Diagnostics & Imaging Week Contributing Writer

ZICHRON YAAKOV, Israel – A feverish race continues for a stand-alone, non-invasive monitoring device that does not need to be used along with conventional blood glucose monitoring of blood samples, and three Israel companies are among the participants.

Start-up OrSense (Nes Ziona, Israel) just completed a $6 million private financing for its non-invasive electro-optical technology that provides spot or continuous monitoring of blood constituents such as glucose, hemoglobin (Hb), hematocrit (Hct) and oximetry (SpO2), using the finger as a testing site.

Israel Healthcare Ventures (IHCV; Tel Aviv, Israel) led the investment, along with STAR Ventures and Lewis Trust Group and others.

OrSense Chairman Shimon Eckhouse is enthusiastic. Eckhouse, who recently was voted Ernst & Young's entrepreneur of the year for Israel in life sciences, said, "We believe that this additional investment will help us establish OrSense as the world leader in non-invasive glucose monitoring, able to eliminate multiple needlepricks to monitor blood sugar levels throughout the day. This is a significant improvement in the quality of life for people with diabetes, a trend we see extending into the future."

So far OrSense is on track to become another Eckhouse blockbuster. Even if it does not take all, there is plenty of space to maneuver in this $8 billion monitoring market.

The company's intellectual property portfolio consists of 18 granted patents, with another 25 in process. OrSense products are based on its occlusion spectroscopy technology.

Other of its products focus on non-invasive monitoring of other critical blood parameters, such as hemoglobin.

Carlo Salvi, a director at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (Petach Tikva, Israel), has been named to the OrSense board. He said, "The prospect of working with OrSense as a director and an advisor is exciting. I have also decided to increase my investment in the company through IHCV, because I believe that their unique non-invasive monitoring systems address major unmet medical needs and represent a potential for rapid market acceptance and profitability.

OrSense is running in this race of tell-but-don't-touch blood sugar monitors with two other Israeli-born endeavors.

Glucon (Boulder, Colorado), developing a continuous, non-invasive, glucose monitoring technology for home and clinical use, was founded in 2000 by two Israelis, company president Ron Nagar and vice president for R&D, Benny Pesach. Glucon has R&D offices in Petach Tikva, Israel.

The company's technology uses photoacoustics to read glucose levels directly from a blood vessel. Glucon was granted a patent and its flagship product, the Glucose Monitoring Watch, a digital watch/meter that constantly checks the glucose level in the bloodstream, is currently in clinical trials.

Called Aprise, it will display a continuous reading of the patient's real-time blood glucose level, enabling the patient to take the necessary measures to remain within glucose-safe limits. Ultrasound imaging is employed to identify a blood vessel and optical spectroscopy is used to quantify the glucose concentration within the blood vessel.

Pesach said the company has demonstrated excellent prospective clinical results. These include the most recent study of 23 subjects, 309 capillary blood tests yielding precise (20mg/dL) and accurate results.

The start-up raised $14.8 million financing in round C.

NetRegulus, an established provider of enterprise compliance software for regulated industries, said that Glucon has selected the new NetRegulus NetRM Software as a Service (SaaS) Study solution to manage the next phase of its aggressive clinical trial schedule.

"NetRegulus' experience and significant knowledge of regulated life sciences was a key factor in our decision process. The NetRegulus SaaS solution promises to help reduce time to market while simultaneously improving the ability to successfully manage critical data in preparation for successful FDA submissions," said Glucon CEO Dan Goldberger.

Another group of Israeli entrepreneurs saw the market potential and founded Integrity Applications in September 2001. Its non-invasive device for measuring blood glucose levels, GlucoTrack, has a triple cross-checking device for measuring blood glucose levels.

Integrity Applications co-founder, CEO Avner Gal, said the three separate measuring technologies are needed because "the human body is a complex target, as well as one that demands extreme accuracy." The technology for separate cross-checking and the processing algorithm that supports them has a U.S. patent for the combination of the three technologies.

Gal said that more than 10 companies worldwide are trying to develop a viable solution. "We have a final model with 100 units ready for clinical trials," he said, developed at a cost of under $2 million invested from private investors.

Integrity Applications is holding another financing round of $1.5 million, "which ought to be our last round before we go to market," he said. "We prefer strategic investors with strategic capabilities."

Israeli firm in telemedicine effort

Visonic (Tel Aviv), a maker of electronic security systems and home management systems, reported strengthening its position in home healthcare by entering the telemedicine sector through a partnership agreement with TMT Telemedicine Web Medical Center.

The agreement signed with the controlling shareholders of TMT establishes a partnership between Visonic and TMT, within the framework of a company called Visonic-TMT Telemedicine (Lyon, France).

In exchange for an investment of EUR 711,366, Visonic has gained a 12.15% stake in the newly formed company.

Visonic said the alliance will give it an enhanced marketing and sales platform with which to expand into the telemedicine field, on the basis of TMT's package of solutions in the area of home healthcare and telemedicine.

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