Rock West Medical scores $1.25M to advance ingestible endoscope

PillCam--Courtesy of Given Imaging

Competition could be rising for Medtronic's ($MDT) Pillcam, an endoscopic imaging capsule, as California-based Rock West Medical Devices raised $1.25 million in equity to advance its MoPill, an ingestible device that measures the motility--spontaneous and active movement--of the gastrointestinal tract.

The funding came from a single undisclosed investor. Rock West Medical Devices, a member of Advamed's Medtech Innovator, hopes to raise another $1.75 million from the equity round, according to an SEC filing. It will use the funds to support the development of a MoPill prototype and to see it through preclinical and clinical trials and a 510(k) bid, according to Medtech Innovator.

The company promotes MoPill--short for Gastrointestinal Motility Pill--as an affordable, minimally invasive and radiation-free way to observe peristalsis and forward and backward movement in the GI tract. According to its website, MoPill can diagnose and monitor gastrointestinal conditions such as dyspepsia (indigestion), diabetic gastroparesis and intestinal obstruction, the company said in a statement in March last year.

Oral endoscopes like MoPill and Pillcam represent a more thorough and comfortable way to visualize the gastrointestinal tract. During a colonoscopy, patients are usually sedated and while enteroscopy is used to visualize the small intestine, endoscopes usually can't see into the far reaches of the organ due to its length. A swallowed endoscope solves this problem.

How MoPill stacks up against Medtronic's Pillcam is yet to be seen. Developed by Given Imaging, Pillcam SB3, for the small intestine, won an FDA nod in August 2013 and a clearance for the Pillcam Colon followed in February 2014. The company also marketed the Pillcam Eso for the esophagus. The Israeli company was then acquired by Covidien, which in turn was absorbed into Medtronic. Pillcam is a 12-mm-by-33-mm capsule with a tiny camera on each end. It transmits four to 35 frames per second over a 10-hour period. Meanwhile, single or multiple MoPills may be used to study GI motility for up to 7 days, Rock West said in the statement.

As for other ingestible monitors, MIT researchers are developing a capsule that measures heart and respiratory rates in real time. And a University of Glasgow team is working on a capsule that images with nonvisible light and could be used to diagnose gastrointestinal cancers.

- here's the SEC filing
- and here's more from Medtech Innovator