Startups

CraniUS raised a $19.4M Series A to develop its device fighting chronic brain diseases

The startup, which counts recent Johns Hopkins university alums among its senior-most employees, will put the funds toward developing prototypes of its flagship device for delivering medicine directly to patients' brains.

An assembly of brain scans taken with an MRI scanner.

(Image by Flickr user Florey Institute, used via a Creative Commons license)

A medical device startup that posted one of the region’s largest Q2 raises recently announced its completion of a Series A round that netted almost $20 million.

CraniUS, a neuroscience-focused startup HQ’d in Baltimore’s Woodberry neighborhood, said in an announcement that it closed its Series A at about $19.4 million. While it didn’t reveal participating funders’ names, the company said that the money came entirely from private investors, and a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing counted 21 participant investors. CEO Michael Maglin declined to name them to Technical.ly.

The company’s announcement also noted that the funds from the round, which the Baltimore Business Journal (BBJ) reported took place between September 2021 and April 2022, will allow the company to develop its pioneering signature device as it moves toward Food and Drug Administration clinical trials.

That device is described on CraniUS’ website as “the first medical device that enables chronic medicine delivery directly to the brain, powered by a novel wireless charging system.” That device functions as an implant whose medicine delivery mechanism bypasses the blood-brain barrier and primarily serves people with chronic brain diseases. The resulting medication is thus more effective than other delivery vehicles for brain medicine.

“When you think about drugs that are taken orally or through injection to the vein, you know, less than 1% of that medication is getting to the actual area that it needs to treat,” Maglin, a former Under Armour executive, told the BBJ.

CraniUS is unique for other reasons, too. Its cofounder and CTO Deborah Weidman and Director of Mechanical Engineering John Cai earned bachelor’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University only within the last two years, with the BBJ noting that Weidman created the company with Johns Hopkins scholar Chad Gordon. Earlier this year, the Q2 PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor listed the company’s pre-seed raise at about $19 million; Maglin clarified to Technical.ly that this report captured where the company was at in the middle of this Series A.

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Maglin told Technical.ly via email that the company currently has 17 full-time employees “across engineering, regulatory, quality, strategy, and operations functions,” as well as various consultants and part-time workers. He added in an interview that the company, which outpaced its hiring plan by bringing on most of those 17 employees over the last 10 months, aims to hire about four more individuals.

The company will put this raise toward workshopping the device ahead of anticipated clinical trials, which Maglin said CraniUS aims to begin in person in the first half of 2024.

“CraniUS’ device has been built from the ground up over the last 5+ years specifically focused on long-term medicine delivery directly to the brain,” Maglin said in the announcement. “This investment round will enable our team to continue its mission to invent, engineer, and manufacture our device towards FDA approval for a first-in-human clinical study.”

The BBJ also recently reported on another major regional development involving Johns Hopkins neuroscience researchers: the NeuroTech Harbor accelerator, which the Baltimore-area private university developed in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health and Howard University.

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