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Modulated Imaging to commercialize tissue oxygenation imager

24 Jan 2019

Spin-out from UC Irvine's photonics incubator closes $7M round of series B venture funding.

California-based Modulated Imaging, which has developed an optical technique for imaging tissue oxygenation and hemoglobin levels, has closed a $7 million round of venture finance.

The series B round, in which the company aims to raise $10 million overall, will be used to commercialize the UC Irvine spin-out’s “Clarifi” imager, and to support additional clinical trials.

Led by Pangaea Ventures, the series B round features both new and returning investors – among them Germany-based dialysis equipment firm Fresenius Medical Care Ventures, Grey Sky Venture Partners, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital Co. Ltd and Fouse KK.

Janelle Goulard, Pangaea’s director of health investment, is set to join Modulated Imaging’s board of directors.

Commercialization plans
Modulated Imaging’s technology is based on spatial frequency domain imaging (SFDI), a near-infrared technique that identifies chromophore concentrations in tissue over a wide field of view.

The technique works by shining different patterns of light on the tissue, recording a video of the re-emitted light, and processing the visual information acquired. Mathematical models can then reconstruct the absorption and scattering coefficients of the tissue, yielding quantitative spatial maps of the tissue's optical properties and biochemical composition.

That information can then be used to quantify hemoglobin concentrations in both superficial and sub-surface layers of tissue, enabling diagnosis of circulatory problems and helping doctors identify patients who are at risk of foot ulcers and other vascular complications.

“We expect Modulated Imaging’s novel approach to fundamentally change how clinicians diagnose, treat, and deliver care to patients across the healthcare continuum - especially patients with diabetes,” said Goulard. “The team is focused on providing a solution for all stakeholders in this space and uniquely equipped to make this happen with their breakthrough technology that is protected by worldwide patents.”

FDA clearance
Last year, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) awarded the Clarifi imager 510(k) clearance for pre-marketing, and with that and the new funding Modulated Imaging will look to fully commercialize the platform.

The company’s CEO and CTO, David Cuccia, said that the support from Pangaea and the continued support of series A investors would accelerate that activity. Hamamatsu and Mitsubishi took part in the $2.9 million series A round, closed in late 2017.

Al Wiegman, who heads up Fresenius Medical Care Ventures, added: “Fresenius Medical Care Ventures’ continued investment in Modulated Imaging is based on the disruptive nature of their early data and the impact we believe this technology could have in our mission to decrease life-altering complications in our patients with diabetes, vascular, and kidney diseases.”

One application where the Modulated Imaging technology promises to have a huge impact is in diabetic foot ulcers, which often go undiagnosed until they are so advanced that amputation becomes the only option for a patient.

“Our technology can measure peripheral perfusion, and allow primary care doctors to screen subjects and prescribe preventative measures prior to ulcer formation,” states the company on its web site. “We can also help the wound care specialist when an ulcer has already formed.”

Other potential clinical uses include detailed skin assessment for aesthetic applications and treatment monitoring in dermatology.

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