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Avenda Health Raises $10M and Receives FDA Clearance to Begin Clinical Trial of Laser Thermal Technology

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Culver City-based Avenda Health, which has developed a laser thermal treatment platform for prostate cancer and related conditions, made two significant advances last month.

On August 9, the company announced that the US Food and Drug Administration has granted approval for a randomized clinical trial of its laser ablation technology to treat prostate cancer.

Then, on August 25, the company announced it had raised $10 million in Series B funding led by Chicago-based venture capital firm VCapital.
Both are important stepping stones towards the commercialization of laser thermal therapy for prostate cancer treatment.

Avenda Health was started in June 2017 by three UCLA faculty colleagues. Two of his co-founders, Brittany Berry Pusey and CEO Shyam Natarajan, were co-founders of the UCLA Center for Business of Science, launched by the late businessman and innovator Roy Doumani. The third co-founder, Chief Medical Officer, Leonard Marks, is a professor of urology at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.

This trio aimed to develop a laser ablation technique for treating prostate cancer that could be applied on an outpatient basis. The technology involves the use of laser needles and thermo-optical sensors to precisely target and treat soft tissue. The improved accuracy minimizes urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction, two common side effects of conventional radiotherapy or chemotherapy for prostate cancer.

In developing the laser system, Avenda discovered a need for more precise mapping of targeted prostate cancers. They developed a 3D mapping system that uses artificial intelligence algorithms and probabilities to map cancer zones and used it to guide treatment. Both are available for outpatient use.

FDA approval included the issuance of an Investigational Device Waiver to allow the use of these two technologies together in randomized controlled trials. The goal is to show that treatment of prostate cancer is more successful with fewer harmful side effects than conventional chemotherapy and surgical approaches.

“Our mission is to advance prostate cancer treatment so that patients do not have to choose between treatment and quality of life,” Natarajan said in a company announcement.
“Using the latest deep learning technology, iQuest will give doctors and their patients more insight to identify the best treatment for each individual,” added Natarajan. “We are very pleased to receive IDE approval, which will allow us to advance prostate cancer research for the millions of men who are diagnosed with it each year.”

According to the announcement, if the clinical trial is successful, it could lead to the first FDA approval of a local treatment for prostate cancer in more than 40 years.

Last year, Avenda received Breakthrough Device designation from the FDA for its laser ablation system. That designation means the agency believes the technology is likely to be superior to the current standard of care.

Avenda’s $10 million funding round announced on August 25 will help the company complete a randomized clinical trial.

VCapital partner Ryan Kole said in the announcement that Avenda’s focus on improving men’s health is one of the reasons it will take a leading role in the funding round. I was.
“We are excited to join Avenda Health’s journey to make incredible advances in the future of prostate cancer care,” said Kole. “VCapital is proud to invest in something meaningful, innovative and groundbreaking in men’s health.”

The company said the $10 million in new capital will be used to expand the use of its 3D mapping platform and continue developing clinical evidence. That brings his total to $19.3 million, following about $9 million in funding the company has raised to date.