San Antonio — Vida Medical Devices, a startup led by a Brazilian inventor and a longtime San Antonio life sciences executive, is preparing to hit the market with a test version of its first medical device: a guard that protects vascular access lines during surgery.
This month, Vida is having a contract manufacturer produce a batch of 10,000 of its product, which is called the Line Guard. The company plans to provide as many as 200 of them to hospital systems for testing and price validation. When the product eventually hits the market, Vida plans to charge less than $20 for each. It expects to register the Line Guard as a Class 1 device, the lowest-risk category that does not necessarily require more rigorous testing and FDA regulatory review, according to CEO Mike Dwyer.
In the meantime, Vida is working on crowdfunding a seed round of financing of as much as $1 million to take the Line Guard to market and build out a pipeline of other potential devices. If all goes well, the company may seek a Series A round of funding next year, according to an investor presentation. It has raised $100,000 so far from its founders and one angel investor, Dwyer says.
Vida has been developing the Line Guard since 2015, when its inventor Luiz Maracaja founded the company. Dwyer met Maracaja through the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where Maracaja worked in the department of anesthesiology. Dwyer joined the company in 2016.
The Line Guard aims to protect vascular access lines used during surgery, in particular the valve that controls the flow of whatever intravenous solution is being given to a patient, according to Dwyer. The Line Guard helps prevent the valve on vascular access lines from incorrectly and accidentally being switched on or off, and keeps them clean, too, Dwyer says. Currently, medical workers cover the lines with foam and cloth, wrapping and unwrapping them to gain access, he says. The Line Guard (you can see it here) also gives clinicians easier access. Vida is producing a second version that lights up at night to help nurses see the device.
Vida also has numerous other products in development that might be classified as Class 2 medical devices, Dwyer says. These products include devices that work with ultrasound technology, such as a disposable device that aims to help physicians assess whether the surgical reconnection of blood vessels has been successful.
The Line Guard is the furthest along, and with the production of its first 10,000 devices, Dwyer hopes it will mean the company can start making sales next year. That, and venture funding, would also mean the company could start paying Maracaja and Dwyer a salary—they haven’t taken one yet, he says—and pay for other costs, like a storage facility and development of its other products.
Dwyer sold his previous business, Azaya Therapeutics, to San Diego, CA-based Cytori Therapeutics last year in a mostly stock deal with potential future cash payments. Before that, he worked for I3 Research and Ilex Oncology, a drug developer that sold to Genzyme for $1 billion in stock in 2004.
Maracaja is from Rio de Janeiro, and moved to New York for his medical degree at SUNY, which he received in 2011. After a stint at UT Health, Maracaja and his wife moved to New Haven, CT, for a position at Yale University, Dwyer says. (Maracaja got a job there, too.) Like many modern startup employees, Dwyer and Maracaja work remotely but talk frequently over the phone. Maracaja is the inventor of all of the company’s devices, some of which he developed in Brazil and others at UT Health and in Connecticut. Dwyer says Maracaja’s ability to identify solutions with seemingly small, but important problems in the operating room led to most of his medical devices and the company’s formation.
Dwyer hopes to eventually find a distribution partner to sell the devices—possibly a medical device company that may also be willing to provide Vida some capital. That, and because Maracaja is continuing to develop new products, means the company probably won’t be seeking an acquisition any time soon, Dwyer says.
“They’re just practical devices,” Dwyer says of Maracaja’s inventions. “With the way he’s so prolific, he’ll continue to develop products.”