First to See the Light

ST and Affiliates Close Sale of ImThera

Spencer Trask & Co. and its Affiliated Investors Close the Sale of ImThera Medical, Inc.

OLD GREENWICH, Conn./PRNewswire/ — Spencer Trask & Co., a privately held advanced technology development firm, is pleased to announce the sale of ImThera Medical, Inc. (“ImThera”), a privately owned company focused on neurostimulation for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (“OSA”). The company was purchased by LivaNova PLC, a market-leading, medical technology company, as part of a transaction valued at approximately $225 million. Spencer Trask & Co. co-founded ImThera with Marcello Lima in keeping with the company’s long tradition of helping develop innovative healthcare solutions that treat important medical conditions.

ImThera designed and developed a non-drug therapy for OSA that cyclically and continuously stimulates six muscles of the tongue via an implantable device. This therapy received its European CE mark in March 2012 and is currently being tested as part of a 141 patient Phase III clinical trial in the U.S. Led by Alan R. Schwartz, MD at Johns Hopkins University, the clinical trial is expected to be completed by March 2018.

“This transaction with LivaNova accelerates the ImThera mission of providing its life-changing therapy to the millions of Americans who are living with obstructive sleep apnea,” said Spencer Trask & Co. Chairman Kevin Kimberlin.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies insufficient sleep as a “public health epidemic,” noting that one third of U.S. adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep. Victims of OSA stop breathing during the night, sometimes several hundred times. This often undiagnosed condition is a major contributor to neurocognitive, metabolic and cardiovascular disease and may affect as many as 25 million Americans.

ImThera developed a programmable chip which stimulates the hypoglossal nerve that supplies the muscles of the tongue with signals from the brain. By so doing, the ImThera implant keeps the air passageway open throughout the night.

According to a retrospective study published in the Journal of Thoracic Disease (Feb. 2016), individuals suffering from OSA face between a 35% and 85% higher mortality rate compared to healthy people. Approximately 50% of those with sleep apnea suffer from hypertension, a contributing factor in the approximately 38,000 annual cardiovascular deaths (high blood pressure, hypertension, stroke) attributed to the disease.

Kimberlin added, “This is a prime example of the Spencer Trask & Co. mission in action, transforming the standard of care for conditions that affect millions of people.” Spencer Trask & Co. is known for discovering and bringing to market technical solutions that improve the human condition.

About ImThera Medical, Inc.

ImThera Medical is a global leader in neurostimulation for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. Headquartered in San Diego, ImThera was founded to improve the lives of patients suffering from the debilitating effects of OSA. ImThera’s sleep therapy product is comprised of an implanted small generator and multi-channel electrode lead, along with an external handheld remote control that can start, stop or pause therapy. ImThera collaborates with the world’s top scientists and medical experts in sleep medicine, and its product is commercially available in several countries outside the United States.

About LivaNova

LivaNova PLC is a global medical technology company built on nearly five decades of experience and a relentless commitment to improve the lives of patients around the world. LivaNova’s advanced technologies and breakthrough treatments provide meaningful solutions for the benefit of patients, healthcare professionals and healthcare systems. Headquartered in London and with a presence in more than 100 countries worldwide, the company employs more than 4,500 employees. LivaNova operates as three business franchises: Cardiac Surgery, Neuromodulation and Cardiac Rhythm Management, with operating headquarters in Mirandola (Italy), Houston (U.S.A.) and Clamart (France), respectively.

About Spencer Trask & Co.

Spencer Trask & Co. is a privately held advanced technology development firm that helps entrepreneurs, CEOs and corporate partners start and grow high impact ventures that are changing the world. The company has been instrumental in helping companies pioneer many technological and scientific advancements in the fields of genomics, healthcare technology, mobile technology, the Internet and Open Innovation. Please visit for more information.

The Immune Response Corporation

Revolution in Immunotherapy

DISCOVERY – Non-infectious viral vaccines.

INNOVATOR – In the history of medicine, few figures have had as profound an impact on human health and wellbeing as Dr. Jonas Salk. His polio vaccine breakthrough was the culmination of centuries of research, dating back to Louis Pasteur discovering inoculation. However, Salk’s method was different. He found a way to protect people from viruses without giving them the very disease the vaccine was designed to prevent.

Using this no-infection method, Salk worked with Kevin Kimberlin of Spencer Trask to develop cancer vaccines and an immunotherapeutic to slow or prevent AIDS. They patented and conducted preclinical studies on a cancer vaccine that demonstrated a startling 90% protection against lethal malignancies. 

IMPACT – A fusion of dendritic cells and the cancer antigen, their technology formed the basis for the first FDA-approved cell-based immunotherapy. Over 40,000 men with metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer have received the treatment, and it appears especially effective for African-American men who receive a 48% improved survival benefit compared to white men.

The team and facility making this immunotherapy also made clinical and commercial supplies of the first approved gene therapy, the CAT-T drug Kymriah.

The first approved cell-base immunotherapy and gene therapy prompted the FDA Commissioner to say, “New technologies such as gene and cell therapies hold out the potential to transform medicine and create an inflection point in our ability to treat and even cure many intractable illnesses.”

The noninfectious vaccine approach developed by Jonas Salk eliminated polio from the developed countries, his flu vaccine mitigated the effects of influenza for the past 75 years, and finally, the cancer vaccine developed at his Immune Response Corporation led the way to gene, cell-based, and immune therapy innovations that will impact human health for generations. In summary, Salk released the last step in enabling the most important preventative medicine – non-infectious viral vaccination.