RefleXion Medical raised $11.6 million in a Series A financing round for its biologically guided radiation system for cancer treatment.
The round was led by Paris-based Sofinnova Partners and was backed by Pfizer Venture Investments (PVI) and Venrock. RefleXion plans on using the funds to expand its R&D and accelerate development of its positron emission tomography (PET) cancer therapy system, the company said in a statement.
The Burlingame, CA-based company also added Antoine Papiernik from Sofinnova Partners, Bill Burkoth from PVI and Colin Cahill from Venrock to its board of directors.
"With significant funding from a stellar syndicate of medical technology investors, RefleXion can now execute on its operating plan with the objective of demonstrating the capabilities of our breakthrough technology in patients," Akshay Nanduri, RefleXion's vice president of business development, said in a statement.
The company's cancer therapy system combines PET technology with radiation therapy, which could deliver higher doses of radiation to multiple cancerous lesions while sparing healthy tissue, RefleXion said in a statement. The technology also provides a more personalized approach to cancer treatment by using signals from tumors to deliver radiation, said President Samuel Mazin.
Highly focused radiation therapy could be used in later-stage cancer patients, but the company also has other plans for its PET technology: It hopes to use innovative PET tracers to study biomarkers of cancer such as tumor hypoxia, cellular proliferation, DNA synthesis and genetic markers, it said in a statement.
RefleXion's innovative therapy approaches the market at a transitional moment: In March 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) removed its national noncoverage decision for PET scanning for oncology applications, expanding access to nuclear medical imaging technology for cancer patients. However, the CMS decision also stipulated that local Medicare contractors can decide on cancer imaging coverage in their individual jurisdiction.
Major lobbying groups were pleased with the decision but hoped that the agency would extend reimbursement further and cover different applications of PET therapy, said Gail Rodriguez, executive director of the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA).
"MITA is concerned that CMS stopped short of our complete request, which called for local coverage of all PET tracers that are newly approved by the FDA, not just oncologic tracers," Rodriguez said in a statement at that time.
Still, the push for expanded CMS coverage continues, and successful R&D and major funding could be just what RefleXion needs to bring its product to market.
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