cancer innovation

Houston lung cancer diagnostics startup launches, snags $3M grant

Prana Thoracic Inc., a medical device company developing a tool for early interception of lung cancer, announced a $3 million grant from CPRIT. Photo via Getty Images

An oncology device company has secured a grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, the startup announced this week.

Houston-based Prana Thoracic Inc., a medical device company developing a tool for early interception of lung cancer, announced that Nucore Medical Inc., its wholly owned subsidiary, has been awarded a $3 million grant from CPRIT. The funding will support first-in-human studies and commercialization of Prana Thoracic’s technology.

“We’re excited to be recognized by CPRIT and believe this award speaks to the potential of Prana Thoracic’s surgical oncology devices,” says Joanna Nathan, CEO and founder of Prana Thoracic, in a news release. "This funding will accelerate our technology to the bedside, enabling us to provide Texans and patients all over the world with a definitive diagnosis of their pulmonary nodules earlier in their patient journey."

Prana Thoracic's technology is a minimally invasive, tissue-sparing nodulectomy tool that can evaluate suspicious pulmonary nodules early on in hopes of being able to catch and treat patients with lung cancer — the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, consisting of nearly 25 percent of all cancer deaths. The goal for Prana Thoracic is to equip physicians with the technology to more efficiently sample tissue from at-risk patients and dramatically improve outcomes.

“There has long been a gap between a simple needle biopsy of a nodule deep in the lung and opening the chest to remove a large segment of the lung to help diagnose early lung cancer, particularly when the nodules are very small,” says Dr. Edward Boyle, founder and one of the inventors of the technology, in the release. “As inventors, we partnered with the Johnson & Johnson MedTech Center for Device Innovation to help take this through design and early testing. At this point we are eager to advance the technology through first-in-human studies.”

Nathan, according to LinkedIn, left her role as manager of new ventures the Center for Device Innovation at the Texas Medical Center to pursue this new role at Prana Thoracic. She was at CDI for four years.

Joanna Nathan is back in the founder's seat. Photo via LinkedIn

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Building Houston

 
 

VR training startup, HTX Labs, has raised funding from an outside investor for the first time. Courtesy of HTX Labs

HTX Labs, a Houston-based company that designs extended reality training for military and business purposes, announced last week that it has raised its first outside capital.

The company has received a $3.2 million investment from Cypress Growth Capital. Founded in 2017, HTX Labs — developer of the EMPACT Immersive Learning Platform — has been granted funding from the Department of Defense as well as grown its client base of commercial Enterprises. The platform uses virtual and extended reality that "enables organizations to rapidly create, deploy, measure, and sustain cost-effective, secure, and centralized immersive training programs, all within engaging, fully interactive virtual environments," per a news release.

“We have been looking to secure outside capital to accelerate the growth of our EMPACT platform and customer base but we hadn’t found the right partner who provided an investment vehicle that matched our needs,“ says HTX Labs CEO Scott Schneider in the release. “We found everything we were looking for in Cypress Growth Capital. They have a non-dilutive funding model that aligns with our capital expectations and have the level of experience that really makes this smart money.

"Cypress has a decade-long track record of success in helping emerging software and services companies achieve scale," he continues. "It is clear that the team’s collective entrepreneurial and operating experience will be of tremendous benefit to us as we focus on expanding our customer base in a very intentional way.”

The fresh funding will go toward growing and scaling the company's operations — both within the current Department of Defense and expansion opportunities into key commercial markets, like heavy industry, manufacturing, and higher education. Additionally, the funding will support increased customer adoption.

“Scott and his team have built an exceptional business that is poised for dramatic growth,” says Cypress Partner Pat McCaffrey in the release. “HTX Labs’ modern, immersive training solution provides clients with a force multiplier for modernizing training and an unmatched ROI.”

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