• Staff

Medtronic Acquires Small Biotech Company for Parathyroid IP

Dublin-based medical device company Medtronic announced it acquired privately-held Ai Biomed, the developer of the PTeye system. The only probe-based technology of its kind, the PTeye system, is designed to help confirm parathyroid tissue identified visually by physicians during thyroid surgery.

The acquisition is the seventh the Dublin-based firm has announced in 2020 and is coming a little more than a month from its last deal. Having diabetes, surgery, neuromodulation, and peripheral vascular business lines with deals this year, Medtronic has now applied the acquisition strategy to its ENT business. Those acquisitions come with commentary throughout the year from CEO Geoff Martha and her Merging & Acquisition ambitions during the pandemic.

While thyroid procedures usually involve at least partial incision of the thyroid glands, surgeons often try to prevent inadvertently hurting parathyroid tissue, which, if incised, can cause hypocalcemia symptoms such as muscle cramps in legs and feet, numbness in extremities, and seizures. In a report from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, this accidental damage occurs up to 20% of the 150,000 thyroid surgeries performed yearly in the U.S., which announced this year it is going ahead with testing the technology.

Although surgeons can detect parathyroid tissue on their own at times, the use of technology can benefit patients that need a more accurate confirmation. Ai Biomed's probe-based PTeye system gives visual and audio signals in real-time when it spots a parathyroid gland during a procedure. The study that received FDA approval had an overall accuracy of 96% in detecting parathyroid glands, with a false-negative rate of 7.7% and a false positive rate of 2.7%.

Medtronic anticipates an immaterial impact of the acquisition on the revenue and earnings in its ENT business for the next few years before seeing growth.

Medtronic also made it known that it received 510(k) clearance for its NIM Vital product, allowing physicians to detect, confirm, and monitor nerve function to help reduce the risk of nerve damage head and neck surgery. The company reiterated that PTeye and NIM Vital are distinct but complementary technologies. The NIM Vital system is targeted at protecting crucial nerves, while the PTeye system aims to confirm parathyroid tissue identified visually by the physician. Both technologies can complementarily and enable Medtronic to address two of the most common challenges during head and neck surgery.

"The addition of these two technologies builds on our 20-year legacy of providing innovative solutions that assist surgeons during critical head and neck procedures," said Vince Racano, vice president, and general manager of the ENT business, which is a subsidiary of the Restorative Therapies Group at Medtronic. "By offering these complementary technologies – the NIM Vital system to protect crucial nerves and the PTeye system to help confirm parathyroid tissue identified by the surgeon – we're helping physicians address two of the most common challenges during these procedures.”