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China deal pushes Mauna Kea into profit

04 Oct 2023

New business model and transfer of patents to Tasly Pharmaceutical joint venture sees revenues double.

Mauna Kea Technologies, the Paris-listed developer of the “Cellvizio” medical imaging probe based on confocal laser endomicroscopy, has posted a surge in sales in its latest financial results.

Reporting figures for the first half of 2023, CEO Sacha Loiseau revealed that the firm had made a net profit of €2.8 million after sales had more than doubled year-on-year, to €6.8 million.

The apparent change in fortunes follows last year’s establishment of a joint venture company with China’s Tasly Pharmaceutical, a deal that also saw Mauna Kea sell intellectual property for $10 million.

That was part of a wider pivot away from direct marketing of Cellvizio, to instead target strategic partnerships with leading medical technology and pharmaceutical companies.

Loiseau said of the latest results: “Not only have sales nearly doubled over the period, but the discipline of our organization has also produced a meaningful reduction of operating losses while increasing the global addressable market for Cellvizio.”

JV boost
Under terms of the Tasly deal the China-based joint venture manufactures Cellvizio units for the Chinese market, and is also working to develop and commercialize the technology globally for new applications in neurology and neurosurgery.

In exchange for licenses and patents transferred to the joint venture operation, Mauna Kea agreed to receive cash payments totaling $10 million, as well as a minority share (44.1 per cent) in the business.

The deal also included a five-year commitment to purchase minimum quantities of Cellvizio systems and probes.

“We are now seeing the initial financial benefits of our partnership with Tasly Pharmaceutical and expecting a ramp-up in our commercial operations thanks to our joint venture that will increasingly contribute to Mauna Kea’s reported sales,” Loiseau stated.

Thus far, Mauna Kea has received $9 million of the patent-related cash, with the remaining $1 million due soon but dependent on certain milestones.

The firm indicated that the joint venture would be up and running by the end of the year, with its sales team scheduled to transfer imminently.

Bowel disease opportunity
The joint-venture cash received thus far enabled Mauna Kea to post an net profit of €2.8 million for the first half of 2023, despite its operations running at a loss of €1.1 million over the same period.

However, that operating figure represents a significant improvement on the near-€5 million loss posted in the first half of 2022, thanks to the sharp uptick in sales and tight controls on marketing expenses.

Loiseau and colleagues say that they remain actively engaged in discussions with a number of other global life science firms regarding new partnerships.

They are optimistic that Cellvizio can target a billion-dollar addressable market helping to improve the diagnosis of conditions including inflammatory bowel disease, as well as the investigation of complex conditions such as food sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies.

“One of the core priorities today is to lead conversations with strategic partner candidates who are well-positioned to integrate Cellvizio’s proprietary imaging technology into large scale clinical and commercial platforms, thereby enhancing product differentiation and improving market adoption,” stated the firm.

Iridian Spectral TechnologiesCeNing Optics Co LtdECOPTIKOptikos Corporation Universe Kogaku America Inc.SPECTROGON ABLASEROPTIK GmbH
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