Eden Prairie-based Metavention, which is designing a machine to treat type 2 diabetes by burning away nerves thought to drive glucose dysfunction, has raised $65 million in venture capital.
Metavention announced Monday that Menlo Park, Calif.-based New Enterprise Associates led the series C funding round that includes several new investors.
The money will go to pay for the next clinical study that will be needed to get the Metavention product onto the market in the U.S.
Metavention also said Monday that it has hired med-tech startup executive Todd Berg to become its chief executive. Berg was formerly CEO of Torax Medical, a Twin Cities med-tech company that was acquired last year by Johnson & Johnson.
"This financing by a leading investor syndicate and our recruitment of a highly experienced, successful CEO further validates the transformative potential of MNT as the first procedure targeting one of the underlying causes of type 2 diabetes," Metavention founder and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bobak Azamian said in a news release Monday.
MNT stands for "metabolic neuromodulation therapy." Metavention's MNT device is designed to be used by a physician during a one-hour procedure using radio-frequency energy to burn away, or "ablate," nerves that lead to metabolic organs like the liver. Over activity in these nerves is thought to drive high glucose, and ablating them has been found in small studies to bring more control to glucose levels.
"Radio-frequency energy is delivered through the walls of the hepatic blood vessels to disable nerves in the surrounding tissue, with the goal of reducing sympathetic tone to the metabolic organs," Metavention's website says. "Data from animal and human studies reveals that reducing sympathetic tone allows the body to become less resistant to insulin as well as to produce more insulin, thus treating both root causes of type 2 diabetes."
Metavention has already run an early first-in-human feasibility study of its MNT therapy on patients at six health care centers in New Zealand.
NEA partner Dr. Justin Klein noted Metavention's "impression foundation" in its early feasibility work.
"We believe MNT has the potential to be a safe, effective, and widely accessible approach to address the type 2 diabetes pandemic," Klein said in the news release.
Berg said via e-mail that the New Zealand trial was used to establish "proof of concept and safety."
The next trial, which is described as a "phase 2" trial by Metavention, will be used to validate the effectiveness of the system. The company may also need to run a larger phase 3 trial to show that the safety and effectiveness conclusions from its smaller studies remain statistically significant when tested in larger groups of patients.
Officials at Minnesota med-tech trade group the Medical Alley Association cheered Monday's announcement.
"Metavention is a Medical Alley success story, having moved its headquarters from California," Medical Alley Association CEO Shaye Mandle said. "With a new raise of $65 million and a focus on impacting one of the most significant diseases, Metavention is contributing to the new definition of value in healthcare."
Eden Prairie's Versant Ventures incubated the company from California roots starting in 2012, and then moved it and its chairman, Minnesota native Kevin Hykes, to the Twin Cities in 2014.
"At that point, the company was pretty virtual and we felt Minneapolis was the best place to headquarter it and build out the team," wrote Kirk Nielsen, a managing director with Versant, in an e-mail response to questions.
Nielsen said Metavention's MNT procedure appeared to be novel yet straightforward, and held the potential to disrupt a major medical market.
"There are nearly 30 million Americans with type 2 diabetes — and almost 400 million type 2 diabetics worldwide — and a large number of them are not adequately controlled on standard medications, yet they don't want to go on insulin," Nielsen wrote. "This therapy could provide those patients another option."