CereVasc nets $43M to test minimally invasive hydrocephalus procedure

MRI brain scan
CereVasc's ultimate goal is to transform the common procedure into an outpatient, one-day surgery alternative. (Ildar Imashev / Getty Images)

The developers of a minimally invasive implant for treating hydrocephalus have raised $43.9 million to help launch first-in-human clinical testing.

Sometimes referred to as water on the brain, hydrocephalus is caused by a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid within the brain’s internal cavities. It is typically treated with invasive surgery and a shunt to help drain the excess fluid.

CereVasc hopes its eShunt system will be the first minimally invasive treatment in this area. Deployed to the brain through the femoral veins, it circumvents the use of rigid catheters that must tunnel through the cerebral cortex to reach the fluid-filled pockets. 

This would also avoid the need for general anesthesia, extended recovery times and post-procedure pain management, the company said.

Hydrocephalus, caused by birth defects or developed later in life, is one of the most common neurosurgical conditions and affects thousands of children and adults, said CereVasc co-founder Carl Heilman, neurosurgeon-in-chief of Tufts Medical Center and chairman of neurosurgery at the Tufts University School of Medicine.

“There was a clear need for a new approach to dramatically simplify the treatment of hydrocephalus, reduce morbidity, and expand the use of CSF shunts to a broader patient population,” Heilman said in a statement. CereVasc estimates that about half of the 130,000 shunt-placement procedures performed each year in the U.S. and Western Europe are revision procedures for failed devices. 

The company’s ultimate goal is to transform the procedure into an outpatient, one-day surgery alternative. The eShunt also aims to address the catheter obstructions, infections and the over-drainage issues seen with other systems. 

“Design improvements to decrease the high rate of shunt failure that leads to multiple invasive surgical procedures during a patient’s lifetime have been lacking over the last 60 years,” said co-founder Adel Malek, director of the cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurgery division at Tufts Medical Center. “An innovative therapy with novel endovascular design and minimally invasive deployment has the potential to significantly improve patient outcomes.”

The series A round was led by the Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Fund, an affiliate of Perceptive Advisors, and ATON Partners. CereVasc’s first study is slated to begin before the end of this year. 

“We believe our first-in-human study will demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of the eShunt System and will set us on a path to achieve regulatory clearance in important markets,” said chairman and CEO Dan Levangie.