With eyes on a polymer empire prize, French medtech player seals $42M in fresh funding
Surgeons are limited by sutures, wires and staples to reconnect tissue during surgery — doubly so in minimally invasive procedures. Sealants offer the promise of repair, especially for soft tissues, like the kind in the lungs or heart. But existing products are neither elastic nor adhesive enough. Enter Paris-based medtech player Tissium, which claims it has just the fix with a polymer that promises to do its job on-demand, and maybe even deliver drugs — using technology originally developed in the prolific lab of MIT’s Bob Langer.
Tissium, formerly called Gecko Biomedical, has raised €38.75 million ($42.78 million) in a series B round of funding as it works on developing the technology beyond its EU-approved sealant to a polymer they want to deploy in a number of ways — like anchoring devices within the body, as a plug, a vehicle for drug delivery, as well as an implantable device created outside of the body using a 3D-printer.
The proprietary tech, which was initially developed as a glue to close wounds in babies’ hearts, was created by Maria Pereira, the company’s chief innovation officer, during her PhD in bioengineering systems. It is a flexible, biocompatible and bioresorbable material, CEO Christophe Bancel said.
The sealant does not polymerize by itself or when it comes in contact with blood, he claimed in an interview with Endpoints News. “The doctor will be able to trigger when the polymer goes from its liquid and viscous state into a solid yet fixable state.”
The product, Setalum, is a polymer CE-marked as a vascular sealant. The approval was based on a single-arm in patients necessitating a carotid endarterectomy, a surgical procedure designed to remove a build-up of fatty deposits in the carotid artery. The performance of the sealant was evaluated by the percentage of immediate hemostasis following clamp removal, but enrollment was stopped at 22 patients after immediate hemostasis was achieved in 85% of them.
When Tissium secured its CE mark in 2017, Setalum was approved for use in a vial. The company is now working on tweaking the product into a pre-filled syringe — and hopes to apply for the EU nod for that version by the end of the year. An application for an IND to test the product in the United States is planned for early 2020.
The company has built up its own manufacturing infrastructure and says it can effectively synthesize different versions of the polymer with different properties, including changing the speed of degradation and the strength of adhesion.
The French company also has plans for a polymer empire — it wants to expand the tech to develop a cardiovascular sealant, a complete sutureless solution for peripheral nerve repair, a product for gastrointestinal surgery and as a drug delivery device for ENT conditions, Bancel said.
The series B injection comes from BNP Paribas Développement, the European Investment Fund (EIF), M&L Investments, ValQuest Partners, in addition to existing investors BPI France, CM-CIC Innovation, Cap Décisif Management, Omnes Capital and Sofinnova Partners.
Founded in 2013, the company initially raised $10.8 million that year, and $25.5 million in 2016.