Still River Systems, a Littleton, MA, startup developing a proton radiotherapy system for cancer treatment, has revealed a $33 million financing this morning intended to help the company expedite development of its lead product.
The sizable financing was led by Venrock Associates and previous investor Caxton Health and Life Sciences, according to Still River. Venture firm CHL Medical Partners also participated in the financing. As part of the deal, Anders Hove of Venrock and Myles Greenberg of CHL have taken seats on the startup’s board of directors.
Still River is developing a proton radiation system, called “Monarch250,” that is designed to be much smaller and more affordable than traditional products. Proton radiation systems, which use precise beams of energized protons to treat cancer, typically take up the space of a football field and cost upwards of $150 million, Lionel Bouchet, the company’s director of product management, told me in an interview. Still River’s system, developed in partnership with scientists at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center, requires only 2,000 square feet of space and costs about $25 million to purchase and install, he says.
Bouchet explains that the smaller size of the company’s system compared with other products is possible due to the reduced size of its proton generator, which uses increased magnetic fields to energize protons in a relatively small space. He notes that there are only five proton radiation systems in the U.S., including one installed at Massachusetts General Hospital in the late 1990s. The company hopes that the smaller size and lower price of its system will be a viable option for many cancer treatment centers, as opposed to the limited number of centers that able to afford and house the traditional systems.
Still River says that its proton radiation system has not been cleared by the FDA, but that the company expects to install its first Monarch250 later this year at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, MO.
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