GALWAY, Ireland – December 11, 2018 – WhiteSwell, a company pioneering new ways to treat acute decompensated heart failure, today announced the close of a $30 million series B funding round led by RA Capital Management and an InCube Ventures syndicate, with participation from other investors. Funds from the round will be used to support product development and a pivotal study of the company’s innovative technology for the treatment of acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF).
The company also announced that WhiteSwell founder and chief technology officer Yaacov Nitzan has been joined by chief executive officer Eamon Brady and chief financial officer Seán Mac Réamoinn, who formerly served as chief executive officer and chief financial officer of Neuravi, a stroke treatment company acquired by Johnson & Johnson last year.
“WhiteSwell was founded on insights that arose from our team’s research on the complex fluid dynamics of heart failure patients, leading to the company’s innovative leap in treatment strategy,” said Brady. “This financing is an important milestone that will enable us to tackle an enormous clinical problem that affects millions of families.”
ADHF is an episode of worsening heart failure symptoms that results in millions of hospitalizations worldwide each year, including nearly two million in the U.S. alone.1 Patients with ADHF experience difficulty breathing, fatigue, and edema (swelling) due to fluid back-up in the lungs and other parts of the body (congestion). The condition requires immediate treatment to remove excess fluid in a process called decongestion. Complete decongestion is the goal of ADHF treatment, as residual congestion at hospital discharge is the strongest predictor of rehospitalization and death.2,3,4 As many as half of ADHF patients are discharged from the hospital not fully decongested,5 and 25% of ADHF patients are readmitted to the hospital within one month.6,7,8
“I am excited about the potential for WhiteSwell’s therapy to accomplish complete decongestion with preservation of renal function, which is considered the holy grail of ADHF treatment,” said William Abraham, M.D., director, division of Cardiovascular Medicine at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. “I was immediately intrigued by WhiteSwell’s ingenuity in targeting the lymphatic system, which plays a major role in fluid management, moving interstitial fluid into the vascular system.”
Complete decongestion is difficult to achieve with current ADHF treatments, which focus on removal of excess fluid from the vascular system. WhiteSwell is taking a different approach, targeting removal of excess fluid in the interstitial system, the fluid-filled spaces in connective tissue all over the body that are outside of the vascular system. The company’s innovative technology enhances the natural fluid removal process of the lymphatic system, a network of vessels that permeates the interstitial system to drain excess fluid into the vascular system to achieve interstitial decongestion. Currently there is no effective treatment to directly remove excess fluid from lung and other interstitial tissues.
“WhiteSwell’s mission is aligned with our goal of helping to advance more cost-effective and impactful healthcare outcomes,” said Andrew Levin, M.D., Ph.D., Managing Director at RA Capital. “We are excited about the game-changing potential of WhiteSwell’s technology to benefit patients with ADHF and reduce costs.”
“We’re looking forward to working with WhiteSwell’s experienced leadership team to deliver a compelling new therapy for ADHF, and we see the potential for it to become a blockbuster medtech product,” said Andrew Farquharson, Managing Director and Co-founder of InCube Ventures. “The WhiteSwell approach is disruptive therapy in an area that has experienced relatively little innovation in the past few decades.”
WhiteSwell is currently conducting an early feasibility study at clinical sites in the U.S., Israel and Europe.
About the Lymphatic System and ADHF
In healthy individuals, the lymphatic system continuously captures fluid from tissues throughout the body and pumps it back into the vascular system to maintain homeostasis. In ADHF patients, the heart does not pump effectively, excess fluid collects in the tissues of the body (the interstitial system) and blood pressure rises. Excess tissue fluid and high blood pressure interfere with the natural fluid removal process of the lymphatic system, which can further exacerbate congestion.
WhiteSwell is a science-driven company dedicated to improving treatment of acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF), a primary cause of repeat hospitalization and emergency room visits. Founded by chief technology officer Yaacov Nitzan in 2014, the company is pioneering a minimally invasive catheter-based approach designed to more efficiently remove excess interstitial fluid in patients with ADHF by enhancing the natural fluid removal process of the lymphatic system. For more information visit www.whiteswell.com.
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2 Martens & Mullens, How to tackle congestion in acute heart failure, Korean J Intern Med 2018;33:462-473
3 Arrigo et al, Optimising Heart Failure Therapies in the Acute Setting, Cardiac Failure Review 2018;4(1):38-42
4 Chioncel et al, Cardiac Failure Review 2017;3(2):122-9
5 Girerd et al, Integrative Assessment of Congestion in Heart Failure Throughout the Patient Journey, J Am Coll Cardiol HF 2018;6:273–85
7 Gheorghiade, M, Vaduganathan, M, Fonarow, G, Bonow, R, Rehospitalization for Heart Failure: Problems and Perspectives, J Am Coll Cardiol 2013;61:391–403.
8 Farmakis et al, Acute heart failure: Epidemiology and socioeconomic burden, Continuing Cardiology Education 2017;3(3)