A Galway medtech company on the verge of securing US approval for a device to provide relief for people suffering from a chronic runny nose has raised $25 million (€20.6 million).
Neurent Medical has developed a device that precisely applies low power radio frequency energy to hyperactive nerves in the nose to halt the inflammatory response that leads to rhinitis, or chronic runny nose.
Neurent cofounder and chief executive Brian Shields says that one in four people have some form of the condition.
The company is targeting the two million patients of ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists in the United States for whom drug therapy to manage the condition is not working.
It anticipates the market could expand to as many as six million people who are achieving results with drug therapy but are uncomfortable with it.
"This is far less invasive than anything on the market," says Mr Shields. He said the company's Neuromark device can provide an effective, safe and comfortable in-office treatment solution for millions of patients who suffer chronic rhinitis.
“This is a type of procedure you can go to on your lunch break, like a dentist: you don’t have to write off the next couple of days because of complications, or pain or disruption.”
Life Science Partners, one of the largest European investment firms in the life sciences and healthcare space, has led the latest fundraising , which Neurent expects will see it through to 2023 when it is delivering "tens of millions" of dollars in sales.
Existing venture capital investors Atlantic Bridge and Fountain Healthcare Partners have also taken part in the latest funding round alongside a small group of medtech industry veterans based in Galway.
Fountain will remain the largest single shareholder following the latest investment.
“We are grateful for the financial support of this group of highly regarded investors, which will enable us to transition to an international commercial-stage company,” said Neurent Medical chief executive and cofounder Brian Shields.
Once it has secured FDA approval on the back of data from a clinical trial conducted last year, Neurent plans to start selling its Neuromark device to a pilot group of 10-15 ENT specialists with the hope of seeing about 200 patients treated this year.
It is also running a controlled marketing trial to deliver data to drive a broader commercialisation of the device in what the company has said previously is a $2 billion market opportunity.
“By the back end of 2023 into 2024, we are looking at tens of millions of [dollars of] annual sales and climbing,” Mr Shields said. “We will put our toe in the water delicately in 2021, build that over 2022 and, in 2023, really hit our straps.”
Neurent, which is based in Oranmore, Co Galway, will focus entirely on the US market in its early commercialisation efforts,with Mr Shields noting: “If you can prove that it can be done in the US then fundraising to go global with this becomes a lot easier.”
The company, which employs 14 people in Galway is recruiting to almost double that number to more than 25 by end-summer. It expects to employ more than 50 people by 2023.
Neurent was founded by Mr Shields and chief technology officer David Townley as a spinout from the BioInnovate Ireland programme at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
The company raised €9.3 million in 2018 to develop its device and put it through the clinical testing required ahead of regulatory approval. It also secured €2.8 million in grant aid from the Government.
Neurent said it would also use some of the money raised in the latest round to look at the potential of its platform in treating sinusitis, another major condition in the ENT area.
“The beauty of what we are working on is that, if we peel it all back, we are addressing inflammatory disease in the nose and that is what causes these [rhinitis] symptoms,” Mr Shields said. “If you look at inflammatory disease elsewhere, still in the sinonasal cavities, sinusitis is another big, big disease in ENT with the same underpinning problem, so that is where we see ourselves – inflammatory disease.”