Published 7/1/20 in the Baltimore Business Journal

A University of Maryland, Baltimore-born company aiming to develop new medical devices for use in heart surgeries has raised $8.3 million in new funding. The newly announced financing for Protaryx Medical includes $3.2 million in grant and seed funding, in addition to a recently closed $5.1 million round of Series A funding. The A round was led by Ajax Health, a health care technology-focused firm based in California, with participation from UM Ventures, the tech commercialization arm of UMB.

In addition to the investment, Ajax Health’s Doug Koo, chief financial officer and managing director, and Aftab Kherani, chief medical officer and managing director, will join Protaryx’s board of directors.

Protaryx will use the new funding to advance development of its medical device designed to facilitate easier access to the left atrium of a patient’s heart, called transseptal access, during catheter-based cardiac procedures. The company is also planning to pursue regulatory clearance for its device through various international agencies, including through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“There is currently an opportunity for technologies that can optimize access to the left atrium during beating-heart cardiology procedures, a market that continues to see worldwide growth,” Terri Burke, co-founder and CEO of Protaryx, said in a statement.

Protaryx was spun out of UMB and is among nine such startups to earn investment from UM Ventures, which aims to support innovative technologies coming out of university research with promising commercial potential. Other UM Ventures portfolio members have included the likes of Harpoon Medical, another spinout based around a technology intended for use in minimally invasive heart surgeries, developed by cardiac surgery chief Dr. James Gammie. Harpoon was acquired in late 2017 for up to $250 million by California-based medical devices giant, Edwards LifeSciences  Corp., just four and a half years after its incorporation.

Gammie is also a co-founder of Protaryx. The company’s CEO was formerly vice president of business development at Edwards Lifesciences, where she led several strategic acquisitions including that of Harpoon Medical.

In statements, Gammie noted that that Protaryx’s tech aims to address a “clear pain point” for physicians.

“Transseptal access with today’s existing technology can be challenging, time-consuming and difficult to learn,” he said. “The innovative Protaryx device is designed with the goal of simplifying transseptal access for physicians, which may lead to fewer complications and improved outcomes for patients.”

Protaryx is headquartered in Baltimore, with offices at the B&O Warehouse at Camden Yards, and has additional engineering operations in Minneapolis. The company did not disclose the number of employees it has.