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Lymphedema, a build-up of fluid due a blocked lymph system, affects 20 million people annually
You may not have heard of lymphedema, but there's a decent chance you know someone who has it: an estimated 20 million Americans live with the disease, which is chronic, progressive, and incurable condition where a buildup of protein rich fluid causes painful swelling in the arm, leg, and other regions of the body. It's especially prevalent in cancer survivors.
Seeing his father suffer through it is what led Andy Doraiswamy, Ph.D., to found Koya Medical, a company that has developed a wearable and app to help people manage their lymphedema. The company just announced a $26 million Series B round of funding.
"I started Koya in 2018 after seeing my father’s experience with chronic post-cancer lymphedema and identified the need for better in-home treatment that is easy to perform and allowed patients to get on with their daily lives with minimal interference. He’s a very active person and it was challenging for him to have his movement so restricted during treatment and preventing him from doing what he enjoyed including spending time with family," Doraiswamy told me.
"At that point, I had spent 20 years in innovation in the medtech industry, so I quickly recognized the opportunity to create a solution that addresses the barriers posed by the current standard treatment devices."
Koya's solution is called Dayspring, which is an active dynamic compression system that allows patients to have movement and mobility during treatment. The device, which is worn on a patient's arm or leg, uses Flexframe technology, which is non-pneumatic.
"Instead of using air, it uses highly responsive and durable spring-like segments embedded in a comfortable low-profile garment that contract and relax through a smart and mobile controller to reduce edema and maintain limb volume, while minimizing interference with daily living," Doraiswamy explained.
Dayspring is different from traditional pneumatic compression devices (PCDs), as they use air-based compression and have to be plugged into the wall during treatment, which restricts the patient’s body movement and mobility. It also discourages use of the device, which can negatively impact adherence.
"One of the greatest challenges with treating lymphedema and venous disease is helping patients incorporate exercise and maintain essential body movement into their daily lives," said Doraiswamy.
"Dayspring is the first active compression treatment system that uses non-pneumatic technology and is designed to deliver therapeutic compression while allowing the body to move and the patient to be mobile. Regular patient body movement and exercise enhances lymph fluid movement and manages chronic edema."
The device also comes with a Bluetooth enabled smart controller and a free companion app that allows patients to customize treatments and view their treatment history.
In a study of 52 patients who have used Dayspring, Koya found that 86% said using it helped them achieve significant improvement in edema volume reduction, compared to 22% of subjects who utilized a traditional PCD, while 92% said using Dayspring helped them achieve significant improvement in quality of life, compared to 38% for a traditional PCD. Finally, 95% of subjects using Dayspring adhered to the prescribed treatment, compared to 48%.
The company's new funding round was led by 3x5 Partners, along with new investors Asahi Kasei Ventures, Cadence Healthcare Ventures, and existing investors Arboretum Ventures and Scientific Health Development, among others. It follows the company's $11 million Series A funding in January of 2021.
Dayspring is currently only available in selected geographic markets, and Koya plans to use the new funding to expand its commercial footprint. It also will use the fujnding to expand its portfolio to address both upper and lower extremity care: Dayspring is currently FDA cleared for both the upper extremity and lower extremity and the company also has clearance for Dayspring Lite, a treatment intended for those who only need basic compression.
"Along with ramping up manufacturing and commercialization of those products, we are exploring leveraging the platform for continued clinical research and application in adjacent disease states where low treatment adherence in home setting is a challenge," said Doraiswamy.
The company's mission, he said, is to transform lymphatic and venous care through a suite of innovative technologies that are created for real life.
"For us, success is being able to offer treatments and solutions that are effective adjuncts to the care patients receive in the clinic and that the transition from the clinic care to home care is seamless and easy to perform. For our patients, success is having access to in home treatments that are compatible with real daily living."
(Image source: koyamedical.com)
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