Relievant picks up $36M for chronic back pain ablation treatment

Courtesy of Michael Dorausch CC BY-SA 2.0

Relievant Medsystems reeled in $36 million that will propel the clinical development and commercialization prep for its nerve ablation system for chronic back pain.

Redwood City, CA-based Relievant scored FDA clearance for its Intracept Intraosseous Nerve Ablation System for the treatment of chronic low back pain in July this year. The company aims to ease symptoms in patients for whom traditional treatments do not or no longer work. Conservative treatments for chronic low back pain include hot or cold packs, analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs, strengthening exercises and physical therapy. If these fail, invasive surgery may be an option.

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Relievant’s system uses radiofrequency ablation to target the pain-causing nerve or nerves, leaving them unable to transmit, according to the company. Spine specialists may use the minimally invasive procedure to target the basivertebral nerve in vertebrae between the L3 and S1 in the lower spine.

The FDA clearance comes on the back of an international, prospective, randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial. The investigators followed up with 225 participants two and 6 weeks later and at the three-, 6-, 12- and 24-month points, the company said. Patients who received Intracept treatment showed a greater mean improvement in Oswestry Disability Index score--a measure of a patient’s disability as a result of back pain--than in patients who received the sham treatment. These results were sustained at 12 and 24 months.

New Enterprise Associates led the financing, while Canaan Partners, Emergent Medical Partners and Mogenthaler Ventures also participated.

“NEA is excited to continue its partnership with Relievant in bringing a game-changing technology to the millions of people who suffer from chronic low back pain,” said NEA Partner Dr. Justin Klein, in the statement. “The robust Level 1 SMART clinical trial results demonstrate the INTRACEPT system to be a safe, effective, durable and minimally invasive procedure that addresses a multi-billion dollar growth market.”

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