Uptake Medical has closed a financing round worth $17.5 million. The Seattle-based company says it will use the money to get clearance to start selling a device to treat emphysema in Europe, to start marketing it outside the U.S., and to pursue FDA approval.
The Series B financing was led by Maverick Capital, and included Uptake’s existing investors: GBS Venture Partners, Onset Ventures, WRF Capital, Arboretum Ventures and Affinity Capital. Uptake has now raised a total of more than $30 million since it was founded in December 2004.
Uptake has captured interest because it is developing a new way of preventing air from getting trapped in damaged regions of the lungs of people with emphysema. Other companies, like Redmond, WA-based Spiration (recently acquired by Japan’s Olympus), have spent years trying to accomplish this with minimally invasive implantable devices, as an alternative to surgery. Uptake is pursuing a different way, using a catheter to deliver steam water vapor that scars and seals shut airways that lead to the bad part of the lung. This way, Uptake says, it can allow the remaining healthy lung to expand more fully and function more normally.
Emphysema, a disease that often strikes smokers and makes it difficult to breathe, costs the U.S. health system an estimated $5 to $9 billion a year, making treatments for the condition a huge potential market, Uptake says. An estimated 16 million people in the U.S. (mostly smokers) have what is called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, an umbrella term for emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It is the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S., killing 100,000 people a year, according to the National Emphysema Foundation.
“Annually hundreds of thousands of severe emphysema patients seek meaningful clinical treatment that is safe and effective only to be disappointed by a limited set of options,” said Eric Kim of Maverick Capital, in a company statement. Uptake’s technology “offers a much-needed solution to help those patients.”
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