Interventional oncology player BTG to acquire cryoablation upstart for up to $110M

Biotech and pharma are dominated by oncology, which typically commands the most research funding and strategic interest. In medical devices, cardiac indications are typically front-and-center for the same reasons. But interventional oncology specialist BTG is working to make med tech more relevant in oncology--something it's got a shot at doing as localized treatment delivery and minimally invasive surgical techniques continue to emerge.

In its latest move, London-based BTG will acquire Galil Medical for up to $110 million. The Arden Hills, MN-based startup markets a portfolio of cryoablation systems and needles that are used for treatment and palliative care in kidney cancers as well as in urology.

Galil is in the midst of two clinical trials that are near completion; these are slated to support U.S. regulatory clearance in lung and bone metastases. Its technology could be expanded into all sorts of other oncology indications including liver and prostate cancer, as well as targeted pain and nerve applications, the companies said.

"This bolt-on acquisition builds on our leadership in Interventional Oncology, expanding our portfolio of minimally invasive therapies with the leading technology in the cryoablation of kidney cancer. It also offers significant pipeline opportunities, including lung and bone metastases if regulatory approvals are granted," said BTG CEO Louise Makin in a statement.

"In addition to enhancing our offering to interventional radiologists, Galil Medical provides access to other specialist physicians that may in future include pulmonary specialists, complementing our existing PneumRx and EKOS businesses. Longer term, we are excited by the opportunity to explore the use of our locoregional radiation and cryoablation therapies alongside other developing technologies," she added.

The Galil systems use compressed argon gas to create extremely low temperatures. The gas passes through the needle and is cooled, forming an ice ball that envelopes the tumor and destroys tissue. The company has a variety of needles to produce a "freeze zone" to match individual tumor size and shape, so that surrounding tissue remains undamaged.

The startup had revenues of about $22 million last year, of which about $15 million came from the U.S. Most of its revenues were from use by interventional radiologists treating kidney cancer, the startup said. It has about 100 employees globally.

The company was founded in 1997 in Israel. It was then acquired by Thomas McNerney Partners, Vertical Group and Investor Growth Capital in 2006 with its headquarters established in Minnesota in 2009.

The deal calls for an $84.5 million upfront payment with up to $25.5 million in regulatory and commercial milestones that stretch through the end of 2018. It's slated to close near the end of the second quarter.

- here is the BTG deal announcement
- and the one from Galil Medical