OxSonics bags $11M to take ultrasound tech into the clinic

An aerial photograph of Oxford
An aerial photograph of Oxford, U.K., where OxSonics' technology was invented.

OxSonics and its sister company have raised $11 million to take ultrasound-based technologies into clinical development. The Series B will support development of technology that rapidly expands and collapses bubbles to improve drug delivery to solid tumors or treat chronic low back pain.

Both companies, OxSonics and OrthoSon, are based on the same approach but address different end markets. The technology, which was invented at the University of Oxford, uses ultrasound to cause the rapid expansion and collapse of bubbles, a process known as inertial cavitation.

OxSonics has released the most details of how it plans to harness this phenomenon. Its plan is to load ultrasound-sensitive particles with stabilized gas bubbles, administer them with unmodified solid tumor drugs and aim low-intensity ultrasound at the site of the cancer. The particles are the right size to pass through vessels in solid tumors. When exposed to ultrasound pulses, the particles expand and collapse, pushing the therapeutic agent deeper into the tumor. And, because the gas restabilizes on the particles, the process can be repeated.

If the technology works as well as OxSonics hopes, it will mean more of each dose of a drug makes it into a solid tumor and, once there, penetrates beyond the perivascular space and deeper into the cancer. Increasing the proportion of drug that enters tumors could boost efficacy while cutting side effects.

“Insufficient dose and distribution of oncology agents into and throughout solid tumours represents a major hindrance in realizing the therapeutic potential of numerous oncology therapies,” OxSonics CEO Colin Story said in a statement. “OxSonics’ platform technology, SonoTran, has already demonstrated an ability to enhance drug activity by up to 10,000-fold in a recent peer reviewed publication with a commercial evaluation partner underlining the major potential for impact that SonoTran offers.”

By persuading investors including Longwall Venture Partners, Oxford Technology Innovation EIS Fund, the University of Oxford, Winton Ventures and Perivoli Innovations to commit to the Series B, OxSonics has gained the money to move the technology toward clinical testing. Since setting up shop in 2013, OxSonics has managed on its $3.3 million Series A and a $2.6 million grant.

The ramping up of OxSonics’ financial clout has allowed it to siphon off money to its sister company, OrthoSon. Like OxSonics, OrthoSon is working with inertial cavitation. The big difference is OrthoSon hopes to use the approach to create a treatment for chronic low back pain. OrthoSon wants its approach to be the “minimally invasive incision-free motion-preserving alternative” to spinal fusion.