San Antonio — Medical device maker Cardiovate has closed a $1 million seed round of funding from an existing group of investors to help it begin a year-long animal study on a scaffold that the company believes can regenerate vascular tissue—which is especially useful for repairing blocked arteries.
Founded in 2012 by a student and two faculty members at two University of Texas schools in San Antonio, Cardiovate has developed a device that replaces the portion of a blood vessel that is clogged, connecting on both ends of the vessel. As blood flows through the graft, which is called NeoVessel, its design helps regenerate new tissue, according to Mark Standeford, the company’s CEO since 2014.
Cardiovate is looking to displace more commonly used treatments, such as bypassing clogged arteries with other blood vessels, or using a synthetic stent or graft. Cardiovate’s differentiator is that its graft gradually dissolves after forming new tissue, Standeford says.
“We get cell attachment, we get cell proliferation, and then ultimately, we regrow a new blood vessel. That is our goal,” Standeford says. “That should be the healthiest blood vessel in your body.”
San Antonio-based venture capital firm Targeted Technology, The University of Texas Horizon Fund, and Texas angel investors provided the seed funding, which Cardiovate opened in 2016 with an initial $350,000 and closed in May of this year at $1 million. (The company hadn’t announced the additional $650,000 until now.) The company has used some of the funding for a redesign of its device and will also use it to pay for the year-long animal study, Standeford says.
Cardiovate plans to evaluate the device’s performance after six months, and if it finds promising data, the company may raise a Series A round of as much as $4 million, Standeford says. The company has completed two 30-day studies, which it paid for using a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. (Cardiovate applied for a second $750,000 grant from the NSF, which it didn’t receive.) Standeford says he plans to continue looking for non-dilutive funding, too.
The company also added a new board member: Ashley Hixon, the former CEO of Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital in San Antonio. Hixon is now the president and chief operating officer of Boerne, TX-based Xeras Medical Technologies.