St. Jude Medical founder Manny Villafaña’s newest medtech play, Medical 21, is looking to raise $15 million in an equity round of funding, according to an SEC filing posted recently.
The company is developing an artificial blood vessel as an alternative to harvesting blood vessels for coronary artery bypass surgeries, and has already begun animal testing of the technology, according to a Twin Cities Business report.
Bypass surgeries, which are performed over 500,000 times a year in the US, require surgeons to harvest blood vessels from a patient’s body to be stitched into the heart to repair the circulatory system.
The development of an artificial vessel could significantly change how the procedures are performed, according to the report – a goal that Medical 21 hopes to see to fruition.
“People have tried for 40 or 50 years to do this and no one has done it. We figure we can save $10,000 to $20,000 per patient, not to mention the pain and rehabilitation. It’s a pursuit that has to be done. We keep tearing up people’s arms and legs and costing their healthcare system enormous dollars. So I’m going after the holy grail,” Villafaña told TCB.
Medical 21 is using a new material developed by the University of Iowa and licensed to the company to make its artificial vessels, something Villafaña says gives him confidence, according to the report. The material consists of cellulose graft conduits supported by a thin nitinol wire, similar to what was used in his previous start-up, Kips Bay Medical, which closed its doors in 2015.
The company is looking to raise funds so it can proceed beyond animal testing into human testing, according to the TCB report.
“What I’m doing now is a raise in which I’m inviting people to participate and put a down payment of 10% [of their total investment]. If my animal work is not successful-that is to say I don’t feel it’s suitable for human- then they get their money back. If it is good for human, then we’ll start using that money and ask for the other 90%,” Villafaña told TCB.
The Plymouth, Minn.-based company has already raised $250,000, with a portion of the proceeds slated to support general working capital purposes, according to the SEC filing.