$18 million in second round funding for Semprus BioSciences, start-up aiming to make medical implants safer
Investors are handing an additional $18 million to Semprus BioSciences of Cambridge, one of the biggest medical device investments of the year locally. Semprus is developing a process that it says can make implantable devices more resistant to bacterial infection over a long period of time; such infections cause more than 50,000 deaths a year, says Semprus chief executive David Lucchino (at right).
Semprus' technology has its roots in the Langer Lab at MIT; Lucchino says he first learned of it while earning his MBA at MIT, when professor Bob Langer introduced him to one of the PhD students working in the lab, Chris Loose. Loose now serves as Semprus' chief technology officer.
Semprus says it can add a specially-bonded layer to medical devices like catheters used for kidney dialysis and bone implants that can prevent clotting and fend off bacteria and fungus. "It's not a coating, but a physical extension of the device itself," Lucchino explains, "which means it lasts much longer than any coating could." Lucchino says the company has already collected data showing that its process reduces clotting and bacteria adhesion for at least three months. The surface Semprus adds could also be used for delivering drugs, or agents that promote bone or tissue growth, Lucchino says.
The company has 27 employees, and Lucchino says he's currently hiring quality assurance engineers. His plan is that the new round of financing will be sufficient to carry Semprus through FDA approval.
In its formative stages, the company won business plan competitions at MIT, Oxford University, and Harvard Business School. "People used to tease us and say that our business model was to win business plan competitions," says Lucchino, adding that the company raked in almost $100,000 that way.
(Here I should mention that Lucchino is related to another local CEO: his uncle Larry, who runs the Boston Red Sox.)
About Scott Kirsner
Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.
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