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JeNu Biosciences Raises $1.5M for Ultrasound to “Put Good Things in Skin”

Seattle-based JeNu Biosciences has raised some new cash to go after the emerging market for ultrasound-based skin care devices.

The company has pulled in $1.5 million from Seattle’s Second Avenue Partners and other angel investors, out of a round that is expected to be worth $3 million, says CEO Wayne Wager. JeNu has now raised a little more than $2 million since its founding, Wager says. The news was reported earlier today by Geekwire.

JeNu is looking to use ultrasound waves to deliver specially formulated creams into the skin, or simply, “put good things into the skin,” as Wager says. That’s a different approach than what the folks at Bellevue, WA-based Pacific Bioscience Laboratories took with the Clarisonic skin brush, which uses sonic waves to clean the skin by jostling loose dirt and oils out of pores. While ultrasound is well-recognized for its noninvasive diagnostic abilities, and sometimes for high-intensity therapeutic uses like breaking up kidney stones, the idea of using it for cosmetic applications is relatively new. Clarisonic proved it could be quite lucrative, by generating more than $100 million in sales in 2010, which led to a big acquisition by L’Oreal in November.

Wayne Wager

Wager has medical device industry experience as the former CEO of Redmond, WA-based Confirma, and is the co-chair of Wings, a local network of medical device angel investors. He’s teamed up at JeNu with Michael Lau and Alexander Lebedev, who co-founded Bothell, WA-based Mirabilis Medica—a company that uses ultrasound technology to treat uterine fibroids. The company has also recently hired Colette Courtion, the former CEO of Calidora Skin Clinics, as president.

JeNu has been testing its product candidate at skin care clinics in Seattle and New York, Wager told Geekwire. The company appears to be pursuing a razor/razor blade business model, in which it plans to sell its device plus starter skin creams for about $200, Wager says. The company will then make additional recurring revenue by selling more skin creams.

One big advantage of going into the cosmetics industry is the low barrier to entry, since it doesn’t require years of expensive and difficult clinical trials to win FDA approval, like a drug or medical device. That same ease of entry also brings lots of infomercial-type competitors making lots of often bogus, confusing claims about skin care benefits. But that’s the fray JeNu will enter. It plans to bring its device to the U.S. market in the second half of 2012, Wager says.

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