SACRAMENTO, California (May 2, 2018) – NeuroVision Imaging Inc. has announced a Series C financing round of $15 million with an initial close of $11.2 million. The round is led by Wildcat Capital Management with funding from several new investment groups.
The financing provides support for NeuroVision as it seeks validation and regulatory approval for its breakthrough, low-cost, noninvasive, eye imaging system for measuring retinal autofluorescence that can detect amyloid beta (Aβ) plaque in the eye. Aβ plaque deposits in the brain are a hallmark sign of Alzheimer's disease, and histological evidence shows that Aβ plaque also accumulates in the retina, the photoreceptor and nerve complex at the rear of the eye.
In addition to Wildcat Capital Management, participants in this round are Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC Inc. (JJDC), Nikon-SBI Innovation Fund, Whittier Ventures LLC, and VSP Global®.
"We're very pleased to announce this new round of financing and the confidence it represents from organizations dedicated to the development of innovative health care tools and solutions. Each participant in this round represents potential future strategic opportunities for the company as we move toward commercialization," said Steven Verdooner, NeuroVision CEO.
Joining the funding round is VSP Global, which provides access to eye care for 88 million members through a network of 39,000 eye doctors worldwide. Eyefinity, as part of VSP Global, serves optometrists and the eye care community with the industry's leading suite of practice management software and electronic health records solutions.
"NeuroVision's groundbreaking technology provides for the important possibility of detecting neurodegenerative diseases earlier through the discovery of symptoms in the eyes," said Steve Baker, president of Eyefinity. "In the end, this is about leading to better health outcomes and more coordinated patient care. We believe NeuroVision's technology represents a great opportunity for optometry, underscoring the critical role the eye doctor plays within an increasingly integrated healthcare system. We are proud to support and work with NeuroVision in the eye care industry."
Leonard Potter, chief investment officer and president of Wildcat Capital Management and a member of NeuroVision's board of directors, said Alzheimer's disease provides an important target for investors.
"The Alzheimer's Association estimates there are 5.7 million Americans living with Alzheimer's today, and that number is expected to reach nearly 14 million by 2050," Potter said. "It is imperative that innovative companies find solutions to this growing threat, and that depends on quality organizations providing the resources to support their work."
NeuroVision's experimental technology aims to assess a hallmark sign of Alzheimer's disease – the accumulation of amyloid beta plaque in the brain. Positron emission tomography, or PET scans, and cerebrospinal fluid analysis are currently used to detect amyloid for clinical trials and as an aid in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. These procedures are invasive, inconvenient and costly for clinical trial recruitment, and are impractical for routine screening, disease monitoring and evaluation of therapy response.
The retina, the light-sensing structure at the back of the eye, is a developmental outgrowth of the central nervous system and shares many of the brain's characteristics, enabling the potential for amyloid detection from retinal imaging. Previous studies found that amyloid beta plaque that accumulates in the brain also builds up in the retina and shares similar plaque structure and other characteristics. This breakthrough was originally discovered by a team at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles led by Keith L. Black, M.D. and Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui, Ph.D. NeuroVision holds the exclusive worldwide license to this technology, which is owned by Cedars-Sinai.
About NeuroVision Imaging Inc.
NeuroVision was formed in 2010 and is headquartered in Sacramento, California. The company is developing digital imaging and diagnostic solutions for identifying retinal pathology related to Alzheimer's Disease (AD). In a study published in NeuroImage by members of NVI's founding team, under the direction of Keith L. Black, M.D. and Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui, Ph.D., noninvasive retinal imaging was shown to identify amyloid beta plaque in the retina in transgenic mouse models, and amyloid beta plaques were identified in human cadaver eyes consistent with brain pathology. NVI is building upon this research and has developed proprietary image processing and machine learning algorithms to quantify eye pathology as an assessment of amyloid status in the central nervous system. The company's goal is to develop an easy-to-use, affordable and widely accessible product that helps identify those who may be affected by Alzheimer's. Black, the company's chairman and co-founder, is an internationally recognized neurosurgeon, researcher and thought leader in areas of brain and blood-brain barrier function, enhancing the therapeutic effects of treatments in the brain, and optical imaging of the brain. He is the chair of Cedars-Sinai's Department of Neurosurgery. Steven R. Verdooner, NVI's CEO as well as a company director, is an experienced medical technology industry veteran who has successfully developed, commercialized and marketed ophthalmological imaging and measurement systems for other diagnostic applications.