Tech Transfer eNews Blog

U Maryland-Baltimore start-up raises $8.3M on strength of heart surgery innovation

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: July 8th, 2020

A start-up from the University of Maryland-Baltimore that is developing a device for use during beating heart cardiology procedures has raised a total of $8.3 million after its recent Series A round.

Protaryx Medical took in more than $5 million in its latest financing, on top of a $3.2 million haul in its seed round. The Series A was led by Ajax Healthm and UM Ventures – UM’s commercialization arm — participated in both rounds.

The Baltimore-based company is led by co-founders Dr. James S. Gammie, chief of cardiac surgery at the UM School of Medicine, and CEO Terri Burke. Both were also involved with Harpoon Medical, which was acquired in 2017 by Edwards Lifesciences for $100 million.

Protaryx was founded last year targeting innovations in area of transsceptal access as a means of improving access to the left atrium of the heart during cardiac procedures.

When performing procedures in which the heart is not stopped — such as mitral valve repair and replacement – surgeons must create access from the right atrium into the left atrium. The step has been performed for 50 years, but it requires precision and involves a steep learning curve. A key to the company’s device is that moves in three dimensions — up and down, left to right, or rotating. That capability “will make procedures quicker and hopefully safer for patients, and reduce complications,” Burke said.

UM Ventures’ support has been key, Burke said. By stepping up as an investor – something it has also done with Harpoon Medical — it signaled to others that the company deserved investor consideration.

“We’re very happy to participate in that first round,” said Phil Robilotto, UM Ventures’ associate VP in the Office of Technology Transfer. UM Ventures also opted to double down in the Series A based on Gammie’s track record and keen sense of how the innovation could improve surgical capabilities. “There’s a growing market need for this device to access that side of the heart,” Robilotto said.


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