Sleep apnea startup banks $11M for ultrasmall device development

Belgian-Israeli startup Nyxoah picked up €8 million ($10.9 million) in financing to advance its tiny neurostimulation treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.

The company's latest closing is the first stage of a planned €23 million ($31.4 million) fundraise, all to bankroll the clinical development of a tiny implant inserted under the chin that uses an electrical current to stimulate nerves beneath the tongue. Controlled by a disposable battery patch, the device causes slight motion in the tongue and thus prevents airway obstruction, relieving the symptoms of sleep apnea.

The implant is about 20 mm in diameter and just 2.5 mm thick, according to Nyxoah, and, after a 15-minute implantation procedure, it has a life expectancy of 12 years. The company, which has corporate headquarters in Belgium and an R&D outpost in Israel, is plotting a clinical study on dozens of patients around Europe, looking to evaluate a second generation of its implant.

In addition to its new fundraising, Nyxoah picked up Frost & Sullivan's New Product Innovation Leadership Award for 2014, a badge the company said is an affirmation of its product's promise.

"We are honored by this award which adds external confirmation of the product's innovation and the needs that it satisfies," Chairman and co-founder Robert Taub said in a statement. "I am confident that we will successfully create value for investors, which will be evident in the results of the forthcoming trial."

Taub launched Nyxoah in 2009 alongside Israeli entrepreneur Adi Mashiach. Prior to that, Taub founded Omrix Biopharmaceuticals, a surgical products outfit acquired by Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) for $438 million.

- read the statement