Calypso Medical Raises $50M to Strengthen Pinpointed Radiation Therapy for Cancer

9/17/09Follow @xconomy

Calypso Medical, the Seattle-based developer of technology that pinpoints radiation therapy for cancer to minimize side effects, has raised $50 million in the biggest venture financing of the year in the Northwest life sciences industry.

The financing for Calypso was led by Skyline Ventures, and the same venture firm that founded the company—Seattle-based Frazier Healthcare Ventures. Bay City Capital and InterWest Partners also participated in the deal, which eclipses the $42 million venture financing that went to Kirkland, WA-based Pathway Medical Technologies earlier this year. Calypso has now raised more than $175 million since its 1999 inception.

The money will be used to expand the commercial rollout, domestic and international, of Calypso’s radiation-pinpointing technology, which it markets as “GPS for the Body.” The company’s initial product, first approved by the FDA in July 2006, is designed to help radiation oncologists and technicians treat prostate cancer. Some of the new money will be used to support development of the technology against other tumor types, the company said.

“We believe that Calypso`s proprietary GPS for the Body technology represents a fundamental advance in radiation therapy,” said John Freund, managing director of Skyline Ventures, in a statement.

The Calypso technology has been gaining increasing acceptance from doctors and prostate cancer patients who like the idea of keeping radiation beams on track so they don’t hit healthy tissues and cause impotence or incontinence. Back in March, more than 70 of these systems had been sold in the U.S., more than 2,800 patients have been treated, and the procedure had been performed more than 112,000 times, said Calypso vice president Mark Querry.

But Calypso’s solution to the problem is not cheap. As I reported back in March, Calypso charges $1,200 for the implantable transponders placed in every patient; those devices send signals to a piece of equipment that costs $400,000 to $500,000. And indeed, Calypso has had its struggles getting Medicare to reimburse physicians for its product, and has undergone some layoffs, as we’ve previously reported.

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