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NinePoint Medical seals big licensing deal with Massachusetts General Hospital

Posted by Scott Kirsner  December 13, 2010 08:45 AM

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NinePoint Medical, a Cambridge start-up that is working on new imaging technology for gastrointestinal procedures, is announcing today the largest licensing agreement that Mass General has ever done in the medical device arena.

NinePoint is licensing 188 patents and patent applications from Mass General, but financial terms aren't being disclosed. Earlier this year, the company raised $33 million in first round funding from Boston's Third Rock Ventures and Prospect Venture Partners, based in California.

CEO Charles Carignan says the company is developing a device that will use infrared laser light to create a three-dimensional image of the esophagus, including areas beneath the surface that may be potentially cancerous. "Think about looking through a camera at a building," Carignan says. "You can see the wall, but you can't see inside. With our technology, you'll be able to see inside the building, past the wall." Eventually, the company plans to be able to transmit its imagery in real-time to an off-site pathologist, who might recommend that the gastroenterologist perform a biopsy, or even immediately diagnose a condition like reflux disease or Barrett's esophagus, and proceed directly to treatment.

"We're planning to start with the upper gastrointenstinal tract, and then move to the pancreas, the duodenum, and the stomach," Carignan says. He joined the company as CEO in January; the license agreement with Mass General, where a prototype device was developed at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, took the bulk of the year. Working alongside Carignan at NinePoint are Mike Madden, head of R&D, who came from Boston Scientific; Jim Moriarty, head of program management, previously at Medtronic; and Jessica Duda, senior director of business development, formerly of CyberKinetics.

NinePoint has a dozen employees in Cambridge, though Carignan expects the company's headcount to hit 40 by next year. NinePoint is preparing to move into a new 17,000-square foot office in Kendall Square.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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