Cibiem raises $10M Series A for carotid body ablation device

Dr. Howard R. Levin Mark Gelfand

Device startup Cibiem makes its formal debut with news that it has nailed down $10 million in Series A financing. The money will fuel development of its minimally invasive device designed to treat diseases the symptoms of which are tied to the sympathetic nervous system, including heart failure, hypertension and diabetes.

SV Life Sciences and Third Rock Ventures are behind the financing, and readers should take note of the co-founders--Mark Gelfand and Dr. Howard R. Levin. They launched New York City-based Cibiem through their medical device incubator Coridea, which they have used to nurture and debut a number of companies. Medtronic ($MDT) snatched up one of them--Ardian--for $800 million in 2010, getting access to the company's main product Symplicity,  a catheter-based renal denervation treatment for hypertension now in widespread human clinical trials across the U.S. The day that Medtronic sealed the deal for Ardian, Levin joked to FierceMedicalDevices, "was a good day at work."

Cibiem's name comes from the acronym that explains the approach for its device now under development--"C – B – M"--Carotid Body Modulation. The company is readying catheter-based prototypes for human trials to begin next year, though first in man trials using a surgical equivalent are under way now. 

The CBM device will use a cathether-based approach, Levin tells us, and is designed to ablate the carotid body--a tiny group of chemoreceptors and supporting cells--which is located between the two carotid arteries in the neck. Levin declined to describe details, citing proprietary concerns, but said the device would work from inside the carotid artery to ablate the carotid body tissue, which is outside the arteries, without putting anything across the arteries themselves. The action is supposed to reduce sympathetic nervous system activity, and as a result, help treat diseases such as hypertension, heart failure, diabetes and renal failure.

Levin said that using this device to ablate the carotid body would be a step above drugs used to treat those various conditions by reducing or blunting the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. Targeting the carotid body, Levin said, should go even further toward reducing mortality for conditions such as heart failure, based, in part, on previous research suggesting excess carotid body activity contributes to increased mortality in heart failure patients. Drug treatment works better in early stage heart failure, and then becomes ineffective over time. Side effects also negate drug benefits, so a device could theoretically counter both issues.

When asked if Cibiem is pursuing corporate partnerships, Levin, who is president of the 12-employee company, declined to say,  though he said "there are people who are interested." Cibiem will also pursue a small staffing increase in the coming months, with plans to expand to 15 people by next year.

-  read the release