March 30, 2011 -- Microvisk Technologies, the developer of a handheld system to monitor the blood clotting status of patients taking the drug Warfarin, today announced that it has strengthened its Board with the appointment of medical industry veteran, Bill Moffitt, as Chairman and Peter Whitehouse as CFO.
The company has also announced the broadening of its patent portfolio with the grant of its second patent in the US and first patent in Japan, as additions to its existing European and US patents.
The new appointments are made as Microvisk gears up for the launch of its Smartstrip® device onto the UK market this autumn and follow the company’s recent fundraising which saw the firm secure £6 million from existing investors in an oversubscribed round. It was the third successful funding round for Microvisk, which secured £10.5m within 12 months - the largest amount raised by a UK life science company**.
A spin-out company from the Science and Technology Facilities Council, Microvisk has developed the world’s first medical diagnostic strip based on a Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS) that was created as a movement system for nano-robots. MEMS technology is used in the computer projector, iPhone and Nintendo Wii as well as in car engines.
Microvisk’s ‘SmartStrip®’ is a disposable strip that uses embedded sensors to measure the clotting speed of blood from a finger prick sample and the results are displayed on a handheld reader.
Microvisk is currently completing clinical trials in the UK and has expanded its research and manufacturing facilities. The company is also preparing to commence trials in the USA and Germany within the next six months, with product launches in both countries anticipated to follow in 2012.
Bill Moffitt has over 30 years’ experience in the diagnostics and medical device industry and is the president and CEO of Nanosphere in the US and the chairman of Glysure in the UK. Listed on NASDAQ, Nanosphere Inc, a nanotechnology-based healthcare company, offers breakthrough technologies to simplify diagnostic testing and was recently ranked by Massachusetts Institute of Technology as one of the world’s top 50 technology companies alongside Amazon, GlaxoSmithKline and Google.
Prior to Nanosphere, Bill Moffitt served as President and CEO of i-STAT Corporation, a developer of diagnostic products that pioneered the near patient blood analysis market. Bill Moffitt led i-STAT from its early stages to the company's flotation in 1992 and sale to Abbott Laboratories in 2003. Prior to i-STAT, Moffitt held executive positions with Baxter Healthcare Corporation, a $7 billion manufacturer and distributor of healthcare products, and American Hospital Supply Corporation, a $3.5 billion diversified manufacturer and distributor of healthcare products. Mr Moffitt holds a BS honours degree in zoology from Duke University.
Peter Whitehouse joins from IOTA NanoSolutions, a Unilever Ventures backed nanotechnology company, where he was Commercial & Finance Director and responsible for business development in the biocides, agrochemicals and specialty applications sectors. Peter has previously held finance director roles at biopharma and chemicals firms, Ipsen Biopharm and Avecia Biocides (formerly ICI/Zeneca). He has substantial experience in leading finance operations and managing development activities and acquisitions and divestments. He holds an M.Eng in chemical engineering from Imperial College and qualified as an accountant with Ernst & Young.
John Curtis, chief executive officer of Microvisk, said: “I am delighted that Bill and Peter have joined the Microvisk team. Bill has a track record of managing high technology companies that have shaped the industry and generated significant shareholder value. He and Peter combine commercial expertise with substantial medical diagnostics experience that will prove invaluable as we gear up to launch our SmartStrip® product in the UK this autumn and follow on with product launches in the US and Germany during 2012.
“We are also delighted to have strengthened our patents portfolio with the grant of additional patents in the US and Japan. These intellectual property rights are central to Microvisk’s proprietary position on MEMs and its application to the SmartStrip® product.”
Bill Moffitt said: “SmartStrip® is a proven technology that could transform the way that blood testing is carried out and Microvisk now has the opportunity to capture a substantial share of the market for doctor’s office and home tests for Warfarin patients. I am delighted to join Microvisk and look forward to working with John and the rest of the team.”
Peter Whitehouse said: “This is an exciting time to be joining Microvisk and I look forward to supporting the expansion of the company as we take our innovative SmartStrip® device to market.”
Seven million people in the western world use Warfarin and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that over one million new patients start taking the drug every year. Patients must have regular blood tests at their doctor’s surgery or hospital clinic to ensure they receive the correct dose. Warfarin is affected by food and exercise and if the dose is too low there is a risk of blood clots forming which can result in a stroke or heart attack, while too high a dose can lead to a life threatening bleed.
The Microvisk SmartStrip® enables patients to test their blood clotting capacity at home, in the same way as people with diabetes test for glucose. As such, it reflects the trend towards healthcare monitoring in the home. In the past two years, the US and German healthcare systems have introduced payments to all at-risk Warfarin users to do weekly home blood tests, rather than having to go to the doctor or hospital clinic.
To date, only three companies have developed a test system for blood coagulation that can be used in a doctor’s surgery and although certified for home use, market research shows that doctors feel that they are insufficiently robust and too complex for home use. The Microvisk SmartStrip® is unique in the blood clotting diagnostic world as a solid state system that is robust and simple to use at home. It also requires far less blood than other systems, which means less pain for the user. The coagulation status (clotting speed) of the patient is measured by tiny multi-layered paddles on the surface of the strip and a memory chip ensures the device is calibrated to provide the highest levels of accuracy, while the MEMS technology means that high volumes of the device can be manufactured at low cost.
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1. Bill Moffitt, the new Chairman of Microvisk Technologies.
2. Peter Whitehouse, the new CFO of Microvisk Technologies.
3. The Microvisk SmartStrip® system which enables patients on Warfarin to carry out blood tests at home.
About Microvisk Technologies
**Unquote has estimated that £10.5m is the largest amount raised by a UK life science firm during the past 12 months.
Founded in 2004, Microvisk Ltd is developing medical testing devices based on Micro Electro Mechanical Sensors for the international medical market.
Initial research was carried out at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories facility in Oxfordshire, managed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Microvisk was spun of STFC and is owned by a mix of private and venture capital investors who include Porton Capital, Oxford Technology Management, New Hill (Boston, USA), Midven, the Rainbow Seed Fund and Finance Wales.
Many people suffer from coagulation (blood clotting) disorders and the Microvisk technology is designed to enable patients and clinicians to monitor blood clotting ability and assist in the correct dosage of anti-coagulation medication such as Warfarin.
Microvisk’s first product, the SmartStrip®, will be available as a point-of-care and home use test. The device will conduct the internationally recognised Prothrombin Time or INR test by using a drop of the patient’s blood taken by a finger prick. The device is simple to use with a large display and buttons, and sized to be discreet as it can be held in the palm of a hand.
Microvisk's technology uses a different approach to the other devices and tests currently on the market, which use optical analysis or chemical reactions. Microvisk uses Micro Electro Mechanical Sensors (MEMS) on a disposable strip which incorporates a small cantilever to measure viscosity. The devices can test a small volume of whole blood making the test less intrusive and effectively removing the need for a laboratory. In addition, the strip has its own on-board memory to inform the handheld instrument of all manufacturing variables and under what conditions the strip has been kept since the day of its manufacture.
The Prothrombin Time or INR test works by introducing tissue factor to begin the clotting cascade which is the same series of reactions that occur when a blood vessel is ruptured. The clot changes the blood from a free flowing solution to a gel-like substance and it is this change that the sensors monitor and detect.
Microvisk’s manufacturing and INR application specific research facility is located at St Asaph Business Park in North Wales. The company also has a non-application specific technology research laboratory in Chipping Warden, Northamptonshire.
The Microvisk board includes: Bill Moffitt (Chairman); Fred Hallsworth (Deputy Chairman); John Curtis (CEO); Peter Whitehouse (CFO); Matthew Frohn (NED, also a Director of Oxford Technology Management Ltd) and Terry Swainbank (NED, also Investment Director at Synergis Technologies).
For more information: www.microvisk.com