A California biotechnology company that’s created a way to measure a person’s risk for heart attack within the next five years has pulled in the second $10 million tranche of a potential $30 million financing round.
Merck Global Health Innovation Fund led the round for Aviir Inc. and was joined by new investor Partner & Partners, and existing investors Bay City Capital, Aberdare Ventures and New Leaf Venture Partners.
The new funding, triggered by the achievement of revenue milestones, will fund a full-scale commercial launch of Aviir’s MIRISK VP across the U.S., with some international distribution also beginning midyear.
The test measures blood levels of seven proteins that researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine determined were associated with the development of vulnerable plaque, a kind of plaque thought to be especially prone to rupturing. Aviir, which formed in 2005, paired those biomarkers with analytical algorithms that also take into account other known risk factors to determine the likeliness that a patient will experience a heart attack within the next five years.
“Fifty percent of people who have a heart attack have normal cholesterol levels, but cholesterol is only part of the risk equation,” CEO Dr. Douglas Harrington said in a statement. “More than 70% of heart attacks are caused by the rupture of unstable plaque in the arteries, which leads to clotting and heart attacks.”
In a validation study, the test accurately reclassified 43 percent of a population of patients previously considered at intermediate coronary risk into high-risk or low-risk categories.
Aviir will also offer doctors of high-risk patients individualized recommendations for lifestyle changes.
Creating a better model for predicting cardiovascular risk is at top of mind for other growing startups like Cleveland HeartLab, which has developed a series of lab tests for inflammation biomarkers. Both companies are working in a cardiac biomarkers market that Global Industry Analysts forecasts will be worth $3.4 billion by 2017.