Delphinus Medical Technologies, the Plymouth, MI-based medical imaging startup, announced this week that it has raised $39.5 million in a Series C round.
The investment was led by Venture Investors, with participation from Hopen Life Science Ventures, Waycross Ventures, Arboretum Ventures, Beringea, and North Coast Technology Investors. According to the company, the round represents the single largest amount ever raised for a healthcare imaging company in the Midwest, as well as the largest round ever raised for a Michigan-based medical device company.
Mark Forchette, CEO of Delphinus, says Delphinus plans to use the money to fuel commercialization plans for its lead product, the SoftVue whole breast ultrasound system. Forchette says SoftVue allows doctors to get a snapshot of the entire breast without the compression, radiation, or pain associated with traditional mammography methods.
“The breakthrough is in the way we capture images,” Forchette says. “The patient experience is improved. It’s also fully automated, so once a patient is positioned correctly, the technician presses a button and the whole thing takes about two minutes.”
SoftVue also has the potential to help in finding more cancers, particularly in patients with dense breasts, and to reduce the false positive rates found in other breast imaging techniques, Forchette says. The system uses a circular ultrasound transducer that captures signals passing through the breast.
“When I hear the amount we raised and who our investors are, I smile,” Forchette adds. “It validates our technology and the team we have.”
Delphinus is currently in talks with clinical partners in eight locations across the country to conduct a 10,000-patient trial of the SoftVue, which it expects to start by the end of this year. The study will compare the SoftVue to digital mammography, and aims to demonstrate its effectiveness in detecting certain kinds of cancer not easily seen in traditional mammograms while also reducing false positives. False positives are a problem in the industry, Forchette says, because they increase patient anxiety and drive up healthcare costs.
If and when the SoftVue wins FDA approval, Forchette says the company will market it in the United States first before taking it global. The market for the SoftVue is potentially huge, he says, especially when one considers the reasons many women don’t seek out annual mammograms: they’re too expensive or too painful, or patients are concerned about being exposed to too much radiation.
“When I look at the 75 million American women that are old enough for annual mammograms, it’s concerning that half of them don’t participate,” he says. “Ours will be a reimbursable technology, so nothing should stand in the way of patients accessing our totally new approach.”