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1 November, 2006 - 15:11 By Staff Reporter

Chameleon shows colours with £515k haul

A Norwich-based start-up which is breaking new ground in the medical devices sector has raised £515,000 of seed funding to push forward the commercialisation of a sophisticated surface design technology aimed at cracking the $5.2 billion stents market.Often used as an alternative to heart surgery for treating coronary heart disease, stents keep coronary arteries from collapsing in on themselves.

However, a significant percentage of patients develop some form of post-operative complication which can lead to infections, blood clots, bleeding and in some cases, heart attack.

Chameleon BioSurfaces’ solution involves eliminating the risk of an adverse reaction to the stent and a renarrowing of the coronary artery – known as restenosis – by coating it with a fully biocompatible material.

This patented polymer deposition method not only enhances the biocompatibility of implants such as the stent, but also confers drug releasing capabilities and offers manufacturing and process advantages.

The investment syndicate behind the funding was led by London Seed Capital and included members of the London Business Angels network, together with the London Business Angel EIS Tracker Fund and GEIF Ventures.

Existing investors and shareholders, Iceni Seedcorn Fund and the Rainbow Seed Fund who had previously provided around £400k for Chameleon between them, also contributed.

Largely developed by the company’s director of research and founder, professor Chris Pickett, Chameleon’s research is primarily focused on the surface modification of medical devices by using electropolymers.

Dr David Hollinworth, Chameleon’s chief executive, “The money should see us through the next 12 months and will be used for product development. We need to conduct safety and efficacy studies to show the product is safe and that it can do what we say it can do, that is reduce post-operative complications.

“We are trying to develop something that would reduce blood clots from forming using a coating that is fully biocompatible. It needs to be to be fully biocompatible with the coronary artery when the blood’s flowing.

“Most patients treated with stents avoid complications, however about 10 per cent develop a problem of some kind and three per cent of all those treated develop complications that could be life threatening. It’s a $5.2bn market world wide.”

Dr Hollinworth believes the technology is at least three years from becoming a fully approved market-ready product and being used by other companies under an OEM model.

In the interim the company plans to raise more money through a Series A, million pound funding round, coordinated from the firm’s new administrative headquarters in Cambridge. Chameleon’s R & D facility for the time being remains with Prof Pickett at its University of East Anglia base in Norfolk.

While in the meantime Chameleon focuses on applying its polymer coating method to stents, Dr Hollinworth has at least half an eye on other potential uses: “It could be applied to implanted devices such as orthopaedic devices in the knees and elbows.”

Zickie Lim who led the Mills & Reeve team advising the investors, said: “Early stage funds such as these are vital in helping emerging businesses with innovative or disruptive technology work towards getting their ideas and products to market.”

Chameleon Biosurfaces was advised by corporate partner, John Short, and assisted by associate, Dom Pickersgill, of Taylor Vinters.

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