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Microvisk Announces New Board Appointments ahead of Product Launch

Published: Thursday, April 07, 2011
Last Updated: Thursday, April 07, 2011
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Medical industry veteran set to play key role as Microvisk gears up to launch Smartstrip®.

Microvisk Technologies, has announced that it has strengthened its Board with the appointment of medical industry veteran, Bill Moffitt, as Chairman and Peter Whitehouse as CFO.

The company has also announced the broadening of its patent portfolio with the grant of its second patent in the US and first patent in Japan, as additions to its existing European and US patents.

The new appointments are made as Microvisk gears up for the launch of its Smartstrip® device onto the UK market this autumn and follow the company’s recent fundraising which saw the firm secure £6 million from existing investors in an oversubscribed round. It was the third successful funding round for Microvisk, which secured £10.5m within 12 months - the largest amount raised by a UK life science company**.

A spin-out company from the Science and Technology Facilities Council, Microvisk has developed the world’s first medical diagnostic strip based on a Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS) that was created as a movement system for nano-robots. MEMS technology is used in the computer projector, iPhone and Nintendo Wii as well as in car engines.

Microvisk’s ‘SmartStrip®’ is a disposable strip that uses embedded sensors to measure the clotting speed of blood from a finger prick sample and the results are displayed on a handheld reader.

Microvisk is currently completing clinical trials in the UK and has expanded its research and manufacturing facilities. The company is also preparing to commence trials in the USA and Germany within the next six months, with product launches in both countries anticipated to follow in 2012.

Bill Moffitt has over 30 years’ experience in the diagnostics and medical device industry and is the president and CEO of Nanosphere in the US and the chairman of Glysure in the UK. Listed on NASDAQ, Nanosphere Inc, a nanotechnology-based healthcare company, offers breakthrough technologies to simplify diagnostic testing and was recently ranked by Massachusetts Institute of Technology as one of the world’s top 50 technology companies alongside Amazon, GlaxoSmithKline and Google.

Prior to Nanosphere, Bill Moffitt served as President and CEO of i-STAT Corporation, a developer of diagnostic products that pioneered the near patient blood analysis market. Bill Moffitt led i-STAT from its early stages to the company's flotation in 1992 and sale to Abbott Laboratories in 2003. Prior to i-STAT, Moffitt held executive positions with Baxter Healthcare Corporation, a $7 billion manufacturer and distributor of healthcare products, and American Hospital Supply Corporation, a $3.5 billion diversified manufacturer and distributor of healthcare products. Mr Moffitt holds a BS honours degree in zoology from Duke University.

Peter Whitehouse joins from IOTA NanoSolutions, a Unilever Ventures backed nanotechnology company, where he was Commercial & Finance Director and responsible for business development in the biocides, agrochemicals and specialty applications sectors. Peter has previously held finance director roles at biopharma and chemicals firms, Ipsen Biopharm and Avecia Biocides (formerly ICI/Zeneca). He has substantial experience in leading finance operations and managing development activities and acquisitions and divestments. He holds an M.Eng in chemical engineering from Imperial College and qualified as an accountant with Ernst & Young.

John Curtis, chief executive officer of Microvisk, said: “I am delighted that Bill and Peter have joined the Microvisk team. Bill has a track record of managing high technology companies that have shaped the industry and generated significant shareholder value. He and Peter combine commercial expertise with substantial medical diagnostics experience that will prove invaluable as we gear up to launch our SmartStrip® product in the UK this autumn and follow on with product launches in the US and Germany during 2012.

“We are also delighted to have strengthened our patents portfolio with the grant of additional patents in the US and Japan. These intellectual property rights are central to Microvisk’s proprietary position on MEMs and its application to the SmartStrip® product.”

Bill Moffitt said: “SmartStrip® is a proven technology that could transform the way that blood testing is carried out and Microvisk now has the opportunity to capture a substantial share of the market for doctor’s office and home tests for Warfarin patients. I am delighted to join Microvisk and look forward to working with John and the rest of the team.”

Peter Whitehouse said: “This is an exciting time to be joining Microvisk and I look forward to supporting the expansion of the company as we take our innovative SmartStrip® device to market.”

Seven million people in the western world use Warfarin and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that over one million new patients start taking the drug every year. Patients must have regular blood tests at their doctor’s surgery or hospital clinic to ensure they receive the correct dose. Warfarin is affected by food and exercise and if the dose is too low there is a risk of blood clots forming which can result in a stroke or heart attack, while too high a dose can lead to a life threatening bleed.

The Microvisk SmartStrip® enables patients to test their blood clotting capacity at home, in the same way as people with diabetes test for glucose. As such, it reflects the trend towards healthcare monitoring in the home. In the past two years, the US and German healthcare systems have introduced payments to all at-risk Warfarin users to do weekly home blood tests, rather than having to go to the doctor or hospital clinic.

To date, only three companies have developed a test system for blood coagulation that can be used in a doctor’s surgery and although certified for home use, market research shows that doctors feel that they are insufficiently robust and too complex for home use.

The Microvisk SmartStrip® is unique in the blood clotting diagnostic world as a solid state system that is robust and simple to use at home. It also requires far less blood than other systems, which means less pain for the user. The coagulation status (clotting speed) of the patient is measured by tiny multi-layered paddles on the surface of the strip and a memory chip ensures the device is calibrated to provide the highest levels of accuracy, while the MEMS technology means that high volumes of the device can be manufactured at low cost.

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