Dallas’s Green Park & Golf Ventures has invested $850,000 in a Swedish medtech firm, which will now open its U.S. headquarters in the North Texas city.
Dignitana has developed a scalp-cooling system that, when used during chemotherapy, can reduce hair loss. The product is already in use in Europe, Latin America, and Australia, the venture firm said.
“This product has already generated impressive results, reducing one of the most emotionally taxing side effects of cancer treatment,” Carl Soderstrom, a founding partner of the venture firm, said in a statement.
Green Park & Golf said that Dignitana has already completed a U.S. study of its technology, which is called DigniCap, of 122 breast cancer patients at five hospitals across the country. The firm said that study showed a 70 percent success rate in hair loss prevention.
Dignitana’s American operation will be led by Bill Cronin, a former Wall Street road warrior who became a medical device entrepreneur following his wife’s diagnosis of breast cancer nearly four years ago. She had heard through friends about a “scalp cooler” that could help prevent hair loss after chemotherapy treatments.
“When people look better, they feel better,” he says. That certainly was the case for his wife, who, despite chemotherapy, was able to keep her blonde locks. (Cronin says his wife is now doing great.)
The process essentially works like this: The cold temperature restricts the blood vessels in the scalp and impedes the chemotherapy agents from flowing to that area. The patient would wear the cap for a period before, during, and after chemo and would need to begin using the device before the first chemo treatment. Cronin’s research led him to form Chemo Cool Caps, a Dallas company which sells six of the caps, along with a customized cooler in which the caps can be cooled using dry ice.
Though the caps worked for his wife, they are hard to use, Cronin says. “You need a pit crew to make sure the caps are cold and to rotate them,” he says. (In fact, some patients have hired “cappers” to help, paying as much as $750 a day for the service, according to a New York Times article.)
Dignitana’s cap, however, uses a proprietary liquid that is cooled using sensors that monitors the patient’s scalp. “This ensures that the cap stays in the proper temperature range and you don’t need to take it off,” Cronin says. The cap is powered by electricity and is administered in the clinic or doctor’s office.
The cost for such therapy would range from $2,000 to $3,000, depending on the number of chemotherapy rounds. “As soon as we do receive FDA clearance, we will start the process of obtaining reimbursement,” he says. “This is a holistic benefit.”