I-Therapeutix Raises $15M in Round Led by Polaris

6/19/09

I-Therapeutix is reaping the rewards of its swift development of a hydrogel bandage to seal surgical wounds on the eye. Hatched in 2006, the Waltham, MA-based startup has already garnered European market clearance for the product and plans to reveal today it has landed $15 million in a Series C round of venture capital.

Polaris Venture Partners led the round, which also drew investments from the startup’s previous backers SV Life Sciences and Versant Ventures. Alan Crane, a general partner at Polaris, led the firm’s investment in I-Therapeutix and has become a director of the startup as a result of the financing. The cash infusion will enable I-Therapeutix to develop its hydrogel technology for drug delivery to the eye and fund further efforts to commercialize its initial surgical wound-sealing product, I-Zip, in Europe and the U.S., according to Amar Sawhney, founder and CEO. The firm had previously raised $7.2 million in its first two rounds of financing.

It’s a struggle for most medical devices startups to raise capital these days, but there are several factors that have helped I-Therapeutix score venture dollars. In January, the I-Zip was cleared to begin sales in the European Union to seal all surgical cuts on the eye, and the company is poised to begin marketing the product in EU countries late this year, Sawhney says. The company next plans to launch the product in the U.S. early next year, pending the FDA giving the firm permission to do so. Sawhney has also proven that he can take a hydrogel-based product to market, having done so at his previous company Confluent Surgical, of Waltham, which Tyco Healthcare (now Covidien (NYSE:COV)) snapped up for $245 million in summer 2006.

“Being capital efficient and fast on execution brings a really good return on investment,” Sawhney says. “What venture capitalists are looking for is good ROI, and we provide them with the opportunity to get a good return with a proven management team and a proven technology.”

Sawhney and his partners own an estate of patents around hydrogel, a water-based polymer material that solidifies under certain conditions. In the case of I-Zip, two components of hydrogel are mixed together and applied to the eye with an applicator to form a flexible, biodegradable bandage over surgical wounds, Sawhney explains. European regulators cleared I-Zip to be sold to seal … Next Page »

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