Invizius raises £2.75M for its protein coating that hides dialysis machines from the immune system

FierceMedTech Fierce 15 winner Invizius has raised £2.75 million, or about $3.57 million, to help develop its system for mitigating the potential harms and risks of cardiovascular disease linked to dialysis procedures.

Spun out from the University of Edinburgh in 2017, the Scottish startup is developing a sticky, protein-laden solution that coats the inside of a dialysis machine before each use. Dubbed H-Guard, the primer is designed to essentially cloak the machine’s foreign surfaces from immune system and dampen inflammatory responses—the same way certain infections have protein coats that help them avoid the body’s defenses.

The pre-series A funding round was led by the Mercia asset management firm with additional participation from Downing Ventures, the Scottish Investment Bank and the university’s Old College Capital Fund. The company is also supported by the university’s commercialization arm, Edinburgh Innovations.

With the proceeds, Invizius hopes to enter clinical testing, as well as secure a full series A round, within the next year and a half.

“Our goal is to bring much-needed improvement to the lives of three million dialysis patients,” said Invizius’ co-founder and CEO Richard Boyd. “This investment allows us to take a big step towards this, and we are delighted to have won the backing of a consortium of smart, well-funded investors.”

Currently, a person’s life expectancy drops by about one-third once they are placed on dialysis, the company estimates, with about half of patients dying from cardiovascular complications driven in part by frequent inflammation and blood clotting over time.

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“The cost of dialysis in the U.S. is about $30,000 a year, but for patients who are intolerant, the hospitalization cost annually adds about $100,000 on top,” Boyd told FierceMedTech earlier this year.

Invizius hopes to cut down the mortality rate among dialysis patients, and it also says its technology has potential as a coating for long-term implants such as heart and lung devices, stents or grafts, as well as organ or cell transplants.

Mercia initially backed the company with £500,000 in April 2018, the firm’s first investment since its partnership with the University of Edinburgh. Invizius also received early-stage funding from the high-growth spinout program of Scottish Enterprise, the government’s public business support agency—which is now following up with money from its investment arm, the Scottish Investment Bank.

“Invizius has built a reputation, both domestically and internationally, as one of the world’s most promising medtech companies in a very short space of time,” said Bank Director Kerry Sharp. “The investment the company has attracted is testament to the momentum gained in developing its potentially life-saving technology. We look forward to supporting Invizius through the next stage of its growth journey.”