Noninvasive, point-of-care kidney monitor startup raises $22.4M to get to market

Illustration of the Optical Renal Function Monitor--Courtesy of MediBeacon

MediBeacon will nab $22.4 million via a staged financing from Pansend, which is a subsidiary of diversified holding company HC2 Holdings ($HCHC). The cash will go to bring its first product to market--a real-time, noninvasive kidney monitor.

Its Optical Renal Function Monitor (ORFM) works via an optical light sensor placed on the skin. After the sensor has been placed on the patient, a bolus injection of biocompatible, fluorescent tracer MB-102 is administered. The system then tracks the rate at which the kidneys clear the tracer from the blood, a process known as Glomerular Filtration Rate measurement. This is then used to provide an assessment of kidney function; it has completed initial human testing.

"Delayed and imprecise estimates of kidney function are problematic both in clinical practice and in drug development," said Express Scripts ($ESRX) CMO and MediBeacon scientific advisory board member Dr. Steve Miller in a statement. "MediBeacon's ability to provide noninvasive, real-time kidney function measurement could profoundly impact both the quality and cost of patient care."

This is MediBeacon's first product to market--but it also has a portfolio of light-activated agents, including one focused on gastrointestinal disease that is in testing at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis using funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

There are several urine and blood laboratory tests that are currently used to detect kidney function problems, which can then be further elucidated via CT or ultrasound imaging. MediBeacon expects that its kidney function test will provide more rapid visibility into improved kidney function than a standard serum creatinine test--thereby allowing hospitals to release recovering patients earlier.

"Our focus is helping clinicians improve patient outcomes," said MediBeacon CEO Steven Hanley. "With Pansend's investment, we're one step closer to making it a reality."

Dr. David Present and Cherine Eldumiati Plumaker of Pansend will join the MediBeacon board as part of the financing. MediBeacon existing investors include Jump Capital, St. Louis BioGenerator, Missouri Technology Corporation, the Helix Fund and the St. Louis Development Corporation.

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