U-M startup working on cancer treatment raises $8.3 million


A University of Michigan startup that’s developing a non-invasive way to remove diseased tissue from cancer patients using high-intensity ultrasound has attracted $8.3 million in Series B financing.

The investment will help advance clinical trials of HistoSonics’ Robotic Assisted Sonic Therapy — an innovative tissue-destruction technology targeted for liver cancer and other solid tumor applications.

Christine Gibbons, chief operating officer of HistoSonics, said the therapy is based on the science of histotripsy, which uses pulsed sound energy for the precise destruction of targeted tissues. It was discovered and developed by leading scientists at U-M led by Charles Cain, professor of biomedical engineering. Cain has served as an adviser to the company, which licensed the technology from U-M Tech Transfer.

“It uses focused sound energy to treat diseased tissue non-invasively. The mechanical aspect of this focus sound allows us to make the treatment area very precise,” she said. “We believe it will be attractive to clinicians because it can be visualized in real time with an ultrasound or MRI and will address a significant unmet clinical need.”

With the global cancer burden continuing to surge, and the cost of cancer expected to increase from $290 billion in 2012 to $458 billion by 2030, there is a continuing demand for new and better therapeutic options.

HistoSonics also announced that Mike Blue has joined the company as president, CEO and board member. Blue’s background includes various leadership positions within the medical device sector, primarily in interventional oncology.

“Mike is going to take HistoSonics to the next level,” Gibbons said. “His experience in driving growth and value in the medical device sector, his passion for oncology patient care, and his extraordinary vision make him an excellent fit for HistoSonics.”

The Series B financing of $8.3 million included the conversion of previous debt and interest. The round was led by Venture Investors and had full participation from all existing investors including Hatteras Venture Partners, Fletcher Spaght Ventures, Early Stage Partners, TGap Ventures, Grand Angels and U-M’s Michigan Investment in New Technology Startups initiative. Joining as a new investor in this round was Wolverine Venture Fund, a student-run fund administered by the Zell Lurie Institute at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

Funds will be used to support clinical studies and further development of a clinical system for the liver cancer application of its therapy. The company expects a second Series B closing of up to $5 million sometime in the second quarter of 2017.


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