photo by Michael Miller

Potential to Improve Delivery of Drugs Directly into the Brain Nets Boston-Area Device Firm $4M

Boston, MA, January 16, 2014 -- A medical device company looking to improve the way difficult, debilitating diseases of the brain are treated has secured new funding for product development.

Alcyone LifeSciences just closed a $4 million Series B, according to an SEC filing. Company officials said in a statement that the round would support further development of its platform technology.

Neurological disorders are hard to treat for a few reasons, one being the existence of the blood-brain barrier, which blocks potentially damaging toxins from the brain but also keeps out small- and large-molecule drugs.

While some pharmaceutical and medical device companies are working on ways to penetrate the barrier, Alcyone’s devices are based on a way of circumventing it. They build on a drug delivery modality called convection-enhanced delivery, where a fine needle or cannula is inserted into the brain through a small hole in the skull, so that therapeutics can be pumped directly into brain tissue. According to the company’s website, the devices can be smaller than standard needles and designed to avoid challenges with traditional CED infusion therapy, like backflow and plugging. They could also have the ability to deliver multiple therapeutic fluids in programmed sequences.

Target applications for the devices include delivery of drugs for brain cancers, hydrocephalus (often called “water on the brain”) and Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Last spring, Alcyone announced a collaboration with DNAtrix to investigate potential use of Alcyone’s microcatheter system for delivering DNAtrix’s anti-cancer agents directly to brain tumors. Meanwhile, the company is also developing technology to manage cerebrospinal fluid shunt occlusions.

PJ Anand, who was also a founding executive of Arsenal Medical, founded the Concord, Mass.-based company in 2010 with neurologist Dr. Adam Fleisher and Cornell biomedical engineering professor William Olbricht.

Prior to the Series B, Alcyone received a $750,000 loan from the Massachusetts Life Science Center and a $1.8 million Series A in 2012. Harbor Light Capital Partners and Edgar D. Jannotta Jr., a former principal and co-manager of the healthcare group at private equity firm GTCR Golder Rauner, are investors.