A New Path Forward for HistoSonics

On March 13, University of Michigan startup HistoSonics Inc. announced the hiring of a new CEO, the closing of an $8.2 million Series B funding round, and a shift in focus toward the treatment of solid tumor cancers. According to the Ann Arbor based company, which launched in 2010 to commercialize ultrasonic technology developed in the lab of Biomedical Engineering Professor Charles Cain, will now be focusing their patented Robotically Assisted Sonic Therapy (RAST) TM on the treatment of liver cancer.

“I am extremely excited to be joining a company with such an amazing opportunity in front of us,” HistoSonics’ new CEO Mike Blue said in a press release announcing the company’s shift toward liver cancer.  “RAST has the potential to become an entirely new platform in cancer care, addressing many of the shortcomings of the current options of surgery, ablation and radiation.  It is non-invasive, so requires no incisions or needles, incredibly precise, and has the potential to offer a safe, fast and economical alternative with reduced patient pain and recovery time — everything you would hope for in an ideal therapy.”

The non-invasive focused ultrasound system developed by HistoSonics, according to Blue, lends itself especially well to the treatment of liver cancer, which, measured by five-year survival rates, is the second deadliest cancer. As it’s not terribly responsive to either chemotherapy or radiation, and less than 25 percent of patients are surgical candidates, liver cancer has only a 17 percent survival rate at five years, according to the American Cancer Society.

Blue will be joining HistoSonics from NeuWave Medical Inc., a company that produced microwave technology to shrink soft-tissue lesions. The Madison-based company sold to a unit of Johnson & Johnson in 2016. Prior to that, Blue had been vice president of sales for Covidien’s interventional lung solutions division, and a regional business manager for Boston Scientific, focused on interventional oncology.

The $8.2 million Series B funding round, which was led by Venture Investors of Madison, Hatteras Venture Partners of Durham, Fletcher Spaght Ventures of Boston, TGap Ventures of Kalamazoo, and Early Stage Partners of Cleveland, as well as the Grand Angels of Grand Rapids, the University of Michigan’s Wolverine Venture Fund, and the MINTS (Michigan Investment in New Technology Startups) program at U-M.

The Series B, according to Blue, will allow HistoSonics to conduct a 10-patient study in late 2017 and continue the development of this novel technology.