One of Fogarty Innovation’s current companies-in-residence, Ryme Medical, is helping patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) breathe easier with its innovative device that aims to alleviate the suffering of patients who struggle with this condition through the application of Targeted Lung Denervation (TLD)
As the third-leading cause of death worldwide, COPD is a group of airway diseases that lead patients to have airflow blockages and difficulty breathing. It includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Many patients continue to have symptoms despite optimum medical treatment and many patients do not reliably take their medication due to difficulty in using the inhaled bronchodilators and cost. In addition, many COPD patients suffer from acute flareups of their symptoms requiring them to seek additional medical support or hospitalization. These flare-ups, or exacerbations, are a leading driver of the economic burden of COPD, which is in excess of $50B in the U.S. alone. There are more than 375 million people suffering from COPD across the world.
Ryme is committed to its mission
Led by Paul Andreotti, Ryme has made impressive headway in its efforts to target the para-sympathetic nervous system and take away its negative impact on COPD patients by eliminating its hyperresponsiveness. Having previously received its first funding from Santé Ventures, Ryme has since completed a number of vital steps, pre-clinically and on the bench, which are foundational to the device’s performance.
As Paul explains, “While we have acquired rights to use a commercially available cryo generator, our team has been focused on developing the catheter that will be used to deliver the treatment within the airways as well as the precise treatment algorithm that controls the dose delivered to the airway wall.” This entailed a series of bench and animal studies that allowed Ryme to look at how they were impacting the nerves in the bronchi as well as the surrounding structures to ensure they we weren’t damaging non-targeted tissues.
Now the startup is preparing to start human clinical trials, with the first patients anticipated to be treated later this year. Ryme works with multiple Interventional Pulmonologists around the world both as advisors as well as sites that will participate in the pilot study.
The company has grown commensurate with this progress and now has seven full-time employees, along with a few consultants. Currently they are in fundraising mode, having recently opened their Series A, which has already received a great deal of interest. They are currently looking for more investors in that round, along with trying to raise additional funds.
A surge in breakthroughs brings new attention to the treatment
The space is garnering significant interest, with other companies also doing complementary work that has led to the recognition of targeted lung denervation by the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease – GOLD 2023as a potential new therapy to reduce exacerbations. These exacerbations have a detrimental impact on the breathing status of the patient and result in a 14% mortality increase in the year following a moderate to severe exacerbation. Recent data has also shown an increased risk of both myocardial infarction and stroke in the six months following a COPD exacerbation.
As Paul shares, the Ryme device conducts targeted lung denervation by trying to disrupt the vagal nerve signaling in the pulmonary branch in order to reduce the amount of the neurotransmitter that currently causes COPD symptoms and exacerbation.
“We’re confident that our treatment is reaching the therapeutic temperatures required to impact the nerves and have a positive effect,” Paul said. “We believe we’re set up for success with what will be proven to be an effective device and treatment algorithm, a sound strategy to implement, and a strong team to execute.”