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Acusphere raises $7.5 million

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Ultrasound contrast agent developer Acusphere of Cambridge, MA, announced this month that it concluded a $7.5 million financing round led by Comdisco Ventures. The funds raised include $5 million in debt from Comdisco and $2.5 million in venture capital.

Ultrasound contrast agent developer Acusphere of Cambridge, MA, announced this month that it concluded a $7.5 million financing round led by Comdisco Ventures. The funds raised include $5 million in debt from Comdisco and $2.5 million in venture capital.

Acusphere plans to use the funds to develop AI-700, a gas-filled synthetic polymer ultrasound contrast agent. AI-700 expands the capabilities of echocardiograms to include the detection of myocardial perfusion. The firm plans to begin phase I clinical trials with AI-700 in early 1999.

In other Acusphere news, the company reported Nov. 17 that it has received two patents from the U.S. Patent Office. The first covers technology for incorporating sound-responsive gas-filled microspheres into ultrasound contrast agents. It addresses a problem that arises from the use of commercial agents: When injected into blood, the agents leak gas, which decreases their efficacy. Acusphere's newly patented technology better retains gas inside the contrast agent, reinforcing the diagnostic signal, according to the company.

The second patent covers technology that uses synthetic polymers in contrast agents, strengthening the agents' ability to function well under ultrasound power settings used for myocardial perfusion imaging.

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