Cancer treatment co NovoCure gets Pfizer investment

Johnson & Johnson also participated in the financing round.

Medical device start-up NovoCure Ltd. has competed a financing round led by Pfizer Ventures, Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation and Index Ventures. Pfizer Ventures is the investment arm of Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE; LSE: PFZ), and Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation is the investment arm of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ).

NovoCure did not disclose the size of the round, but based on previous transactions, the company probably raised more than $10 million.

NovoCure will use proceeds from the round to finance the continuation of the trial of its Novo-TTF device, a non-invasive portable medical device for the treatment of cancer. The device is being tested as a treatment for a type of brain cancer.

Pfizer Ventures director Bill Burkoth said, "The NovoCure TTF therapy is a completely novel approach to fighting cancer. Pilot clinical trials suggest that TTF therapy plus chemotherapy has the potential to significantly improve patient survival. This investment aligns with Pfizer's goal to help oncology patients live longer, healthier lives."

In contrast to Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, which has already invested in several Israeli medical devices start-ups, this is apparently Pfizer Ventures' first investment in an Israeli company. Pfizer has made a direct investment in Quark Pharmaceuticals Inc., but not through Pfizer Ventures. Pfizer also has several joint ventures with Israeli diagnostic companies.

Johnson & Johnson's investments in Israel include Mazor Surgical Technologies Ltd. (TASE:MZOR), Medigus Ltd. (TASE:MDGS), Aposense Ltd., and BrainsGate Ltd., and Omrix Biopharmaceuticals Inc., which it acquired last year at a value of $465 million.

NovoCure's Novo-TTF device is a unique cancer treatment that uses specially tuned, low intensity electrical fields (Tumor Treating Fields or TTFields) to disrupt cell division. Rapidly dividing cancerous cells are affected by the TTFields , causing them to either break apart or not divide properly, while healthy, non-dividing cells are not affected, yielding a targeted treatment with minimal side effects.

The Novo-TTF device has been tested in more than 175 patients with various types of cancers including recurrent and newly-diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), breast cancer, and lung cancer.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 1, 2009

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2009

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