NUI Galway Spin-Out AtriAN Medical Raises €2.3 Million in Seed Funding

Back row pictured l-r: Barry O’Brien, AtriAN Medical, Jonathon Kavanagh, Western Development Commission, Ken Coffey, AtriAN Medical, Alan Hobbs, Enterprise Ireland and Declan Quinn, Xenium Capital. Front row pictured l-r: John Reilly, AtriAN Medical and Eimear Gleeson, Atlantic Bridge. Photo: Aengus McMahon
Oct 24 2019 Posted: 12:00 IST

Seed investment will support the company through first-in-human trials of a device to treat Atrial Fibrillation with initial patients expected to be treated in about one year

NUI Galway-based medical device spin-out company, AtriAN Medical has announced the closing of a €2.3 million seed round investment to commercialise a new treatment for Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). The technology was conceived at Mayo Clinic in the US, the company has further progressed the device in Ireland and is now ready to begin clinical trials.

The seed investment was led by Western Development Commission and  include Mayo Clinic Ventures, Enterprise Ireland, Atlantic Bridge and Xenium Capital as well as private angel investors with a strong med-tech track record.

The current seed investment will support the company through first-in-human trials of the device with initial patients expected to be treated in about one year at a specialist centre in Europe. The AtriAN Medical team is already engaged with specialists in the University of Amsterdam Medical Centre and Na Homolca Hospital in Prague.

The irregular heart-beat of Atrial Fibrillation causes the patient to have palpitations, weakness, fatigue and dizziness. In addition, patients with AFib are five times more likely to have a stroke due to the formation of clots. It affects 2% of the population under the age of 65 and 9% of the population over the age of 65.

The current treatment options for patients are limited, and are associated with significant complications. The first option is to take anti-arrhythmic drugs. However, the medication is effective in only approximately 30% of patients, and even for these patients, bring extensive side effects. The next option is to have a cardiac ablation. This ablative treatment uses either heating or freezing of tissue to create an intentional scar on the inside of the heart, this is known as pulmonary vein isolation (PVI). However, PVI has variable efficacy and many patients will require a repeat treatment within one to two years.

The AtriAN Medical treatment selectively and non-thermally (without burning, or freezing) treats five specific locations on the outside surface of the heart where the Atrial Fibrillation initiates. The device delivers very short and precise electrical signals that ‘knock-out’ hyperactive neuronal cells at these locations. This reduces the overall ‘sensitivity’ of the heart to AFib, providing a very long-term, and durable treatment as these hyperactive cells will not regenerate.

The technology originated at Mayo Clinic. Following initial discussions between Mayo clinicians with NUI Galway’s Professor Mark Bruzzi and Barry O’Brien around co-development opportunities, a formal collaboration was entered into and the teams at NUI Galway and Mayo Clinic set about progressing the development of the technology. This collaboration came about as a result of an over-arching agreement between Enterprise Ireland and Mayo Clinic to enable collaboration to take place between Mayo Clinic and Irish third level institutions. The collaborative development project that followed was funded by Enterprise Ireland through the Commercialisation Fund programme and by Mayo Clinic. The Commercialisation Fund programme is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under Ireland’s European Union Structural and Investment Funds Programme 2014-2020. This early funding allowed the group to complete pre-clinical studies and also enabled the team to recruit Ken Coffey in a commercial role for further development along with the subsequent addition of John Reilly, a previous Bio Innovate Ireland fellow to lead the device development.

Mr Ken Coffey, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of AtriAN Medical, said: “We would like to thank our investors for their tremendous support of AtriAN. Securing this seed round funding will allow us to progress towards clinical trials to find long-term resolution of this prevalent and debilitating disease. There is currently no suitable treatment and we believe our technology will offer patients a powerful and safe treatment that should last for years.”

Mr Barry O’Brien, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of AtriAN Medical, said: “Our technology targets the source of the problem bringing together technical developments relating to pulsed electric fields and recent scientific findings in the field of cardiac electrophysiology. Several years of excellent research at Mayo Clinic and NUI Galway gives us the confidence to bring this forward for patient trials.”

Alan Hobbs, Manager, High Potential Start Ups (Lifesciences and Industrial) at Enterprise Ireland, commented: “AtriAN Medical is a great example of the world-class medical device High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) cluster in the west of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland is delighted to support them in this seed round. We have been there since the start and it’s great to see the progress made since we supported the original commercialisation funding. We wish Ken, Barry and all the team every success with the trials phase and look forward to continuing to work with them to achieve their global ambition.”

Ms Kelly Krajnik, Director Strategic Operations, Mayo Clinic Ventures, said: “Mayo Clinic has been active and at the forefront of this research field for some time. We are now delighted to make this investment in AtriAN Medical, to directly support the first clinical trial of this exciting new technology.”

Samuel Asirvatham M.D. Cardiac Electrophysiologist at Mayo Clinic commented “The need for improved approaches to treatment of AFib is immense and we are very pleased to be supporting the AtriAN team as they now bring forward this novel technology to patient trials. After several years of pre-clinical research and device development it is exciting to finally see this being evaluated in a clinical trial.”

Dr Jacinta Thornton, Associate Director of the Innovation Office in NUI Galway, said: “Having supported the development and management of the technology over the last number of years in NUI Galway, we congratulate Ken and Barry on securing this investment and we commend them on reaching this important milestone.”

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