Imagine an external device that could have the same effect, when pointed at a tumor, as a cancer drug. It may sound like science fiction, but a Seattle startup is already making this technology a reality.
Bioelectronics company Nativis is developing a medical technology platform that uses electromagnetic fields to mimic the effects of drugs, and the company has just finished raising $10 million to help it develop the tech.
That brings its total funding to $60 million, all raised from angel investors, Nativis CEO Chris Rivera told GeekWire.
The company was founded in 2002 by brothers and entrepreneurs John and Mike Butters, and after a decade developing the underlying technology, Nativis has started to test its device in human patients.
“We can, we believe, replicate the effects of chemicals and drugs and modulate metabolic pathways as if a chemical or drug was present, but through electromagnetic fields,” Rivera said.
In other words, the system works by detecting subtle changes in the electromagnetic fields that surround molecules, known as a molecule’s ultra-low radio-frequency energy (ulRFE) profile. These small charges are important as they are how molecules in the body interact with each other.
After collecting information on a cell’s profile, the company’s Nativis Voyager device can then single out specific kinds of molecules and alter their profile to have the same effect a drug would have when interacting with that molecule.
“This is the most novel, disruptive technology I’ve seen in my career, and assuming we can continue to do what we’re doing in vitro, in vivo, and now in humans, it has the potential to totally disrupt how we treat patients,” Rivera said.
In theory, the tech could be used to attack tumors and other cancerous cells without the need for surgery or the toxic side effects of chemotherapy. It could also be used to target chronic conditions like inflammation and chronic pain.
In practice, it is still very early to make a call. The device is first being studied in patients with a kind of recurring brain cancer, and those trials have advanced to the feasibility stage of testing, the first of three stages mandated by the FDA. Rivera said he was optimistic about the early results of these trials.
Other clinical trials that are testing the device as a treatment for other kinds of cancer, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and chronic pain, are still in the pre-clinical stage, testing for safety.
The company has also added several high-profile biotechnology and health leaders to its board of directors in the past month, including former CFO of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation Richard Henriques.
Rivera joined the company as its CEO a year ago. He spent the previous seven years as CEO of the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association. Nativis employs about a dozen at its offices in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.