Vascular Magnetics announced on 22 February 2012 that it has raised US$7 million in a Series A financing to advance the development of its proprietary, magnetically targeted drug delivery system for the treatment of peripheral artery disease. Devon Park Bioventures was the sole investor in the financing.
“This financing is an important endorsement of our highly innovative approach to treating peripheral artery disease, a major, growing clinical challenge that affects about 30 million in Europe and North America. At least 10 million patients live in the USA,” said Vascular Magnetics chairman Georges Gemayel. “Current treatments for PAD such as angioplasty, grafts and stents, including drug-eluting stents, are not durable, with arterial restenosis occurring frequently. Vascular Magnetics’ innovative approach to enhance local drug delivery has great potential to transform peripheral arterial disease treatment by delivering anti-restenotic drugs specifically to diseased artery sites at higher concentrations than are possible with drug eluting stents.”
The company’s system, called Vascular Magnetic Intervention (VMI), combines biodegradable, magnetic drug-loaded particles, a magnetic targeting catheter, and an external device for creating a uniform magnetic field. The field generates high force magnetic gradients in the catheter, so that when the drug-loaded particles are administered, the gradients direct them to the arterial wall. The particles remain in the arterial wall after the catheter is removed and release the drug over a sustained period. The initial product Vascular Magnetics is developing employs paclitaxel. The underlying technology has longer-term potential for the targeted delivery of therapeutics to other areas of the body.
“The funds will allow us to complete the preclinical development of the system and conduct an initial clinical trial,” said Richard S Woodward, Vascular Magnetics co-founder and chief operating officer. “We expect to begin the clinical trial in 2014.”
The system is based on research by Vascular Magnetics’ co-founder and founding scientist, Robert J Levy, who holds the William J Rashkind Endowed Chair in Pediatric Cardiology at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and is director of the hospital’s Cardiology Research Laboratory. Levy and colleagues demonstrated the feasibility of the VMI approach in studies published in 2010 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “VMI shows great promise for improving outcomes for peripheral arterial disease and I am delighted that with Devon Park Bioventures’ support this concept is moving forward,” said Levy.
Vascular Magnetics was established in 2010 and has licensed its technology from Children’s Hospital. It is the first company to spin out of that institution. The company was seeded by the QED Proof of Concept Program at the University City Science Center in Philadelphia.
In connection with the financing, Christopher Moller, and Marc Ostro, General Partners at Devon Park Bioventures, will join the Vascular Magnetics Board. They join a board that includes Gemayel, Woodward, and Abba Krieger, Robert Steinberg Professor of Statistics and Operations Research at the Wharton School of Business.