There’s a new treatment option for women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. It’s called Breast Microseed Treatment and is a targeted radiation therapy that is being introduced in the U.S. by a Mercer Island, Wash.-based healthcare startup, Concure Oncology. The treatment is now available at Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center.
Breast Microseed Treatment offers targeted radiation to the site around a cancerous lump, after the cancerous tissues are removed, to prevent the recurrence of cancer in that area. It involves the permanent insertion of titanium seeds the size of rice grains that are filled with radioactive palladium into breast tissue in and around a lumpectomy site.
The seeds deliver low-dose radiation over the course of 60-90 days, preventing the recurrence of cancer in at-risk tissues, Concure says. Then, the seeds become inert and can remain safely in the breast, where they can’t be felt, even during mammograms, the company says.
In order to fund the growth and commercialization of its Breast Microseed Treatment, Concure Oncology is raising a convertible note round that is planned to be $1.5 million, said co-founder and CEO Sandra (Sandy) Rorem. So far, the company has raised $100,000 from multiple unnamed investors, mostly in the Pacific Northwest region, she said.
The convertible notes will build into its Series A, expected to launch this fall. The company is looking to raise between $5 million and $7 million at that time, Rorem said.
“We’re young company, but our clinical trials are done, so even though we’re going into a Series A this fall, we’re not really a series A company,” Rorem said. “This treatment [Breast Microseed] has been done in Canada since 2004 and the clinical trials and longterm results and studies were published last fall. We’re the first company bringing it to the U.S.”
This round of convertible notes will build on an existing $2 million seed round raised last fall, said Concure co-founder and CFO Kevin Kelley. That round came from multiple investors, who were also mostly from the Pacific Northwest region, he said, though he declined to name names.
Currently, Concure’s Breast Microseed Treatment is available at Seattle’s Swedish Cancer Institute, part of Swedish Medical Center, he said. Concure’s third and final co-founder, Dr. Ralph Pasqualy, also happens to be a physician at Swedish.
The partnership with Swedish Cancer Institute is a first for Concure, though the company has several other U.S. healthcare partners in the pipeline for partnerships — two on the east coast and one in California, CEO Rorem said. Their names have not yet been announced.
Concure Oncology offers the technology and devices to partner providers interested in providing Breast Microseed Treatment, as well as education and marketing support services, Rorem said. The healthcare startup’s biggest challenge right now is getting breast surgeons to know about Breast Microseed Treatment as an option in order to reach the women who might be helped by the therapy, she said, something that will be made possible through developing more partnerships with healthcare providers.
The advantage of Breast Microseed Treatment when compared with traditional radiation therapy is that it can be administered in a one-time, one-hour appointment, instead of requiring multiple trips to the doctor’s office for additional rounds of radiation, Rorem said. Also, the side effects of radiation through Breast Microseed are less severe, and recovery is faster, because radiation is administered at such a low dose, she said.
“Right now, women who are diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer often choose to have mastectomies because they can’t afford to go to 30 radiation treatments,” Rorem said. “They can’t afford to be away from home or out of work for that long. In radiation, the big push is to make treatment periods shorter. It’s gone down steadily, from 3 months to 10 days, but now we’ve gone down even further and made it one procedure in one day.”
Concure Onology will turn 2 years old in May. The company currently employs 8 and is not looking to expand its team at this time, Rorem said.