Nipro to buy partner, heart attack prediction imaging upstart Infraredx

TVC Imaging System--Courtesy of Infraredx

Infraredx will be acquired by its Japanese partner and investor Nipro. The pair had an exclusive 5-year distribution deal in Japan for the company to sell the startup's cardiac imaging system. Nipro has already gained Japanese approval for the NIRS-IVUS True Vessel Characterization Imaging System from Infraredx to find cholesterol-rich, lipid core coronary plaques that are thought to precipitate heart attack.

Japan comprises 46% of the coronary imaging in major markets. That's according to the most recent IPO filing for Infraredx, which had filed for a public listing in December only to subsequently pull that planned offering for about $56 million in April. That filing, dating from January, noted that Nipro was awaiting a national Japanese reimbursement decision for the TVC system that was anticipated during the first half of 2015.

The Infraredx TVC System won Japanese marketing approval in August 2014; it already had FDA clearance and a CE mark. The company has several ongoing clinical trials aimed at convincing cardiologists of the usefulness of its imaging system in the prediction and prevention of heart attacks.

The system is based on near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and intravascular ultrasound (IVUS). It can reveal the structure of a coronary plaque via its optical catheter, while the NIRS component provides an assessment of the lipid content of a plaque. Cholesterol-rich, lipid core coronary plaques are thought to play a role in heart attacks. Their presence can offer a means of predicting the risk of a future heart attack.

Infraredx has "empowered interventional cardiologists with the NIRS-IVUS imaging system, which is approved to detect the lipid-core plaques that cause most heart attacks," said Nipro President Yoshihiko in a statement. "Nipro and Infraredx share a strong patient centered focus and the combination of the companies' global portfolio and cardiovascular expertise will help us deliver the most comprehensive imaging solution available to change how cardiovascular disease is managed."

The financial details of the acquisition remain undisclosed; it is slated to close in October. The investment by private investors in Infraredx was quite steep--more than $212 million from its 1998 inception through Sept. 30, 2014.

That makes it tough to tell how investors made out on this investment. Its existing investors disclosed in the most recent IPO filing include Sanderling Ventures (16%), Intrepid Maritime (14.3%) and Eastwood Capital (14%). Nipro already held a 13.6% stake in Infraredx.

Infraredx had only $3.7 million in revenue during the first 9 months of 2014, with an operating loss of $21 million during that period.

"By teaming up with one of the leading global medical equipment manufacturing companies in the world, Infraredx is able to leverage Nipro's global network and vast resources to enhance its presence and impact a larger audience locally as well globally," said Infraredx President and CEO Jason Bottiglieri in prepared remarks.

- here is the announcement

Special Report: Infraredx - 2014 Fierce 15