Johnson & Johnson‘s Ethicon has acquired St. Paul, Minnesota-based Torax Medical, a maker of products designed to treat sphincter disorders. No financial terms were disclosed. Torax Medical is backed by Sanderling Ventures and Mayo Medical Ventures.
SAN MATEO, Calif., March 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Sanderling Ventures’ portfolio company, Torax Medical, Inc. has been acquired by Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson. Torax manufactures and markets the LINX Reflux Management System for the treatment of gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). The LINK device is based on magnetic sphincter augmentation (MSA) technology and the procedure is currently available in the U.S. and European medical centers.
Torax Medical was founded by Sanderling Ventures, Mayo Medical Ventures and veteran medtech entrepreneur Todd Berg. This specialized and coordinated team of experts was formed to specifically develop a novel therapy to treat GERD. The disease is the result of a defective barrier between the esophagus and stomach called the esophageal sphincter. People with GERD have a weakened sphincter which can no longer prevent the harmful reflux of gastric content back into their esophagus and airways. If this defective sphincter is not corrected, a patient’s clinical course will likely include new and worsening symptoms and possible disease progression to more serious conditions including esophageal cancer. Currently, the most widely accepted treatment for GERD is the use of proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) drugs which suppress a patient’s normal acid production. These drugs only address the acid content of gastroesophageal reflux and have minimal effect on reducing the amount of abnormal reflux. [1-3]
Dr. Timothy Mills, Managing Director Sanderling Ventures, Chairman and co-founder of Torax Medical comments, “Torax is an example of Sanderling’s Investment Model which partners entrepreneurs with our active management resources including both financial and leadership roles. This results in a very capital efficient process allowing for the focused development of truly first in class healthcare innovation and improved patient care. The investment model, in collaboration with our Venture Capital syndicate partners, created a unique culture for Torax to develop a revolutionary technology for the treatment of GERD.” 
Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) affects an estimated 20 million Americans creating an incredible burden on patient quality of life and an economic burden on the U.S. healthcare system. GERD results from a weak lower esophageal sphincter that allows harmful gastric fluid to reflux into the esophagus, resulting in both pain and injury to the esophageal lining. GERD is associated with a pre-cancerous condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, which increases the risk of esophageal cancer. Symptoms of GERD include heartburn and regurgitation, often associated with chronic sleep disruption, and may also include persistent cough, excessive throat clearing, hoarseness and a feeling of a “lump” in the throat. Acid reflux medications, such as Prevacid®, Nexium®, and Prilosec®, work to suppress normal gastric acid production but do not repair the sphincter defect, allowing continued reflux.
About Torax Medical
Torax Medical headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota develops and markets products designed to treat sphincter disorders utilizing its technology platform, Magnetic Sphincter Augmentation (MSA). Torax Medical is currently marketing the LINX® Reflux Management System for the treatment of GERD in both the U.S. and Europe.
About Sanderling Ventures
Founded in 1979, Sanderling is dedicated to building new biomedical companies specializing in life sciences, medical devices and i-health technologies. Sanderling’s unique approach combines a specialized investment focus with active management and long-term commitment to ensure the highest rates-of-return for both its entrepreneurs and investors. Sanderling and its principals play an active role in new ventures and their portfolio companies by developing cost-control strategies to extend available dollars, supplying technical and regulatory expertise where needed, while providing the insight and experience of the Sanderling team. For more information, please visit www.sanderling.com.