Galway-based medical-device company Neuravi is to start a multi-million euro clinical trial on a stroke treatment device later this year after raising €19m in capital.
The company's EmboTrap device captures and removes clots from blood vessels and restores blood flow. It is used to treat ischemic strokes, which account for 87pc of all strokes. The device can help lessen the long-term effects of stroke or, in certain cases where used very quickly, can help prevent any long-term damage altogether. Ischemic strokes affect about one million people in Europe and 700,000 people in the US every year, meaning that developing an effective treatment opens up a multi-billion euro market.
The device is being used in Beaumont Hospital in Ireland and is currently licensed to be sold across Europe on a commercial basis.
The company now plans to use the €19m raised from its latest funding round to perform a clinical trial to get approval to sell into the US market and to roll out the device on a commercial basis across Europe.
The funding round was led by Dutch-based Life Science Partners (LSP). Three existing investors, Fountain Healthcare Partners, Delta Partners and the Western Development Commission, also all participated in the round. After the raise Dublin-based Fountain, which is the largest dedicated life science venture capital fund in Ireland, remains the single largest shareholder in the business.
The raise comes after a €5.2m Series A round in 2012. Speaking to the Irish Independent, Neuravi's CEO, Eamon Brady, said the new capital will fund the business for the next "two or three years" as it looks to break into the US market.
"We are starting clinical trials involving 25 sites in the US and in Europe, the protocol still has to get approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It will cost several million euros," he said. The trial is to start enrolling patients towards the end of this year and results are expected in the second half of 2017.
Mr Brady said that the firm now intends to take the device "global" and is looking at moving into several international markets including Japan. In the near future he says that the firm intends to build up a sales presence across Europe.
"We have started building a sales force in Europe [and] we will probably ramp up to about 40 or 50 staff over the next few years," he said.
Regarding a future raise, Mr Brady said that he was unsure what route the company would pursue when it uses its current funding, but added that "you always have to maintain the shop window [for investors]."
"By the time we come to the end of our current funding we will be generating substantial funds in Europe. We will then come to a crossroads as to whether to raise more funds, scale the business ourselves or sell, it will depend on what we want to do," he said.
He added that the firm has 30 additional patents, most of which relate to ischemic stroke, which he expects to be commercialised over the next number of years.
As part of the financing, Anne Portwich and René Kuijten, partner, LSP, will join Neuravi's board of directors.
Ms Portwich said: "This is an exciting time to be backing a company dedicated to improving stroke therapy, given the recent series of positive trial results that have decisively demonstrated the value of endovascular treatment for large vessel occlusions.
She added: "These are the most devastating types of stroke, creating a tremendous social and economic burden for patients, and improved treatment has the potential to both save lives and improve quality of life."