Months after revealing a U.S. FDA nod for the Rhinaer Stylus to treat chronic rhinitis, Aerin Medical Inc. reported the closing of a $48 million equity financing. In addition, the company revealed that Matt Brokaw, who has deep experience in the ear, nose and throat (ENT) space, has come on board as president and CEO.
“I have deep roots in the otolaryngology specialty and have sought to partner closely with the physician community while building successful companies around novel technologies,” Brokaw told BioWorld. “Aerin presents an incredible opportunity to serve large markets with significant patient needs, supported by a powerful, advanced platform technology and a strong team – all in a medical specialty to which I’m deeply attached."
Brokaw noted that the company is primed for its next phase of growth and expressed his excitement at joining the team. He previously worked at Tusker Medical, Spirox, Entellus Medical, Stryker, Acclarent, Johnson & Johnson, and Smith+Nephew. His concentration in these positions was sales and marketing.
As he settles in, Brokaw has seen top investors take interest in his company. For example, leading the round was new investor Questa Capital. Also participating was Orbimed and existing investor KCK Group. Proceeds will back commercial growth, support new clinical studies and develop new products to better serve otolaryngologists and their patients.
In terms of clinical trials, the company noted that it is building on what has been published, including data featured last week. It added that studies are currently enrolling that include single-arm and comparative designs.
Also in conjunction with the financing, Ryan Drant, Questa Capital’s founder and managing partner, will join the Aerin board.
Help for rhinitis patients
The company already has seen success in 2020. For example, in March, it revealed the clearance and U.S. launch of the Rhinaer Stylus, its second product.
The Rhinaer procedure aims to help nonallergic rhinitis patients by disrupting the signals that cause symptoms. The procedure can be performed under a local anesthetic in an ENT physician’s office, with no incisions and minimal discomfort.
As of March, more than 13,000 patients with nasal airway obstruction had been treated with the company’s first offering, the Vivaer Stylus. To that point, the patient experience had been positive.
Citing a journal article, the company, which has offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., and Austin, Texas, estimated the number of people in the U.S. suffering from nonallergic rhinitis at more than 30 million. Sufferers experience runny nose, postnasal drip, congestion, chronic cough and other symptoms.
In the wake of this latest announcement, the company told BioWorld that its platform technology is what separates it from the pack. Founder Scott Wolf developed a radiofrequency platform that automatically adjusts power output to create therapeutic effects all while protecting surrounding tissue. “This approach has always been important, but never more so than in the current COVID environment where patients are looking for in-office options and clinical teams want less invasive procedures with minimal risk. ENT physicians can treat both conditions using individual styluses with the same console, which is equally at home, in the office or OR.”
And in terms Rhinaer Stylus, the company highlighted strong uptake. “Since [the first-quarter] launch, thousands of patients have been treated to date with the Rhinaer Stylus, and ENT physicians have chosen Aerin technology to treat more than 20,000 patients overall.”
Looking ahead, the company will focus on R&D in several areas to expand the reach of its core platform technology to treat additional areas in ENT. "Targeted ablation without injuring surface tissue is an evergreen benefit for ENT physicians and their patients.”
Previously, in May 2019, the company said it had closed on a $50 million nondilutive term loan agreement with Crg LP. Aerin received $35 million at closing and said it would gain an additional $15 million in two tranches upon achieving certain milestones. It used the funds to retire its existing debt, with the remaining proceeds earmarked to accelerate its sales and marketing reach and product launch.
For its part, Neurent Medical Ltd., of Galway, Ireland, also is looking at rhinitis. It has developed a minimally invasive, hand-held radio-frequency device that aims to help surgeons treat patients in an office setting.
And it recently got a boost as well. In recognition of the impact of COVID-19 on companies, EIT Health last month said it awarded €5.5 million (US$6.5 million) to help startups. The Start-up Rescue Instrument was initiated by EIT Health in May, with companies receiving €500,000 in co-investment from the group in return for options. The goal was to help bridge the fundraising gap of startups in series A, B and bridge-financing rounds.