Medical device startup raises $13.1 million

dranii@newsobserver.comJune 13, 2013 

Medical device startup NeuroTronik, which was spun out of a Chapel Hill business accelerator just 11 months ago, has raised its first round of outside funding: $13.1 million that is earmarked for continued development of a system to treat heart failure.

“This has the potential to really be one of the biggest device companies to come out of (the Triangle),” said Douglas Reed, a partner at Hatteras Venture Partners of Durham. Hatteras led a syndicate of venture capital firms that provided the funding.

NeuroTronik, which has a handful of employees, is developing a device to treat acute heart failure syndrome for patients who go to the hospital for treatment of worsening symptoms. The company’s Neuromodulation System aims to shorten hospital stays and reduce the need of patients to return to the hospital a few weeks later.

“It’s a way of stimulating the heart to increase the pumping effectiveness, the effectiveness of the contractions,” Reed said. “So it improves cardiac function while the device is in place.”

Test results from a prototype device have been “very encouraging,” Reed said. “This is a very important disease. A lot of people die of heart failure.”

About 1.2 million people are admitted to U.S. hospitals with acute heart failure syndrome each year, said Fred McCoy, NeuroTronik’s president and CEO.

“The potential market is very large,” he said. McCoy is a former executive at Eli Lilly & Co. and was the president of the defibrillator division of medical device maker Guidant from 2000 to 2006.

About 25 percent of the people who go to the hospital for acute heart failure end up returning to the hospital within 30 days for a variety of reasons.

“One of the principal reasons is that they come back for the same heart failure symptoms that they originally came for,” McCoy said. “We intend to help the physicians get the patient to an optimal condition at discharge.”

The company’s target is to obtain the first commercial approval for its device outside the United States in about four years, McCoy said. It’s also aiming to win approval from U.S. regulators, where the process can take longer, in six years.

“The technical and clinical challenges with producing this system are substantial but not insurmountable,” McCoy said.

NeuroTronik is a spinoff from Synecor, a Chapel Hill business accelerator, and McCoy also is vice chairman of Synecor. But he said he’s committed to NeuroTronik.

“I intend to be president and CEO of NeuroTronik to the goal line,” he said. “I like this project a lot. My Synecor colleagues are very supportive of that.”

Ranii: 919-829-4877

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