RenovoRx Catheter Pinpoints Destination for Injected Fluids

1/22/14Follow @tanseyverse

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and more impenetrable to drugs, Ryan says. These fibers develop in other types of cancer as well, but “this is particularly bad in pancreatic cancer,” Ryan says.

RenovoRx developed a double balloon catheter that includes some commonly used components of catheters used in medical practice. By 2012, RenovoRx had lined up manufacturing partners, and the catheter had been tested in animals, says Zanchi, who joined the company as CEO that year.

RenovoRx is now seeking clearance from the FDA for the use of the RenovoCath catheter in humans as a fluid delivery device, Zanchi says.

If approved for patient procedures, the catheter would be inserted into the femoral artery in the leg, and then threaded through the artery until it reached the opening of a branch vessel that leads to a target site, such as a pancreatic tumor. The doctor operating the catheter would be guided by imaging technology that revealed the unique map of the patient’s blood vessels.

The next step would make sure that the drug or other fluid, carried through an inner line in the catheter, flowed only into the smaller blood vessel serving the tumor or other targeted tissue. Two balloons would be positioned in the artery on either side of the branch vessel’s opening, and then inflated, cutting off all the routes to the rest of the blood vessels.

“The fluid must go into the branch,” Zanchi says.

The hope is that the catheter, if used for the targeted delivery of drugs, would not only help reduce the overall toxicity to the body that is seen when the drugs are introduced into the whole system, but would also increase the effectiveness of the medicine, Zanchi says. But all this would need to be demonstrated in clinical trials, she says.

RenovoRx will begin by working with oncologists and interventional radiologists who are familiar with the company’s catheter, Zanchi says.

The company has raised more than $1.7 million in two funding rounds in 2013. The Series A investors included The Angels Forum, Halo Fund, Sand Hill Angels, and Golden Seeds. For the Series B round, those investors were joined by Astia Angels, a global network of investors who fund companies that include women among their leaders. The group is associated with the not-for-profit organization Astia, which nurtures women entrepreneurs.

Astia CEO Sharon Vosmek says she personally invested in RenovoRx.

“In early stage investing, you can never underestimate the importance of the team,” Vosmek says. “I have a high level of confidence in their ability to navigate the early stage medical device landscape.”

Zanchi is a former FDA Medical Device Fellow. Veteran medical device company manager Kamran Najmabadi co-founded RenovoRx with Agah. Najmabadi serves as chief operating officer and chief technology officer.

Pancreatic cancer is one of RenovoRx’s areas of focus. But the ability to pinpoint a delivery route by choosing a target vessel in the peripheral vasculature may some day prove useful in other areas of medicine, Zanchi says.

“Every time we present this technology to physicians, new applications are proposed,” Zanchi says.

Bernadette Tansey is a freelance journalist based in Berkeley, CA. Follow @tanseyverse

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