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24 November, 2021 - 22:00 By Tony Quested

Charco raises $10 million to help battle Parkinson’s

Charco Neurotech, a Cambridge BioMedTech business that develops solutions for people with Parkinson’s, has secured a $10 million seed investment round. 

The financing was co-led by Parkwalk Advisors and Amadeus Capital Partners and was joined by University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners (UTEC), MINT Venture Partners and existing backers including Crista Galli Ventures. 

The financing has been described as the largest European seed round in 2021 and the sixth largest globally for healthtech devices, according to Pitchbook.

Charco is a multi-award winning, Imperial College spinout. Its first therapeutic device, CUE1, provides life-changing neuromodulation therapy. Based on more than two years’ research with patients and clinicians, the discrete, non-invasive wearable device delivers individualised peripheral nerve stimulation designed to alleviate motor symptoms such as slowness, stiffness and freezing while walking. 

Worn on the sternum, it achieves this by simultaneously delivering two clinically validated therapies – focused stimulation and “cueing” – personalised for each patient through customisable stimulation settings.
The former interacts with the body’s sensory system to foster a more “ready-to-move” state, helping with movement speed and fluidity. 

The latter leverages regular or rhythmic stimuli, or cues, helping  people with Parkinson’s to initiate and sustain movements like walking.

The CUE1 system tracks symptoms and lifestyle information, such as treatment adherence and quality of life measures, through its accompanying app. 

The combination is a unique non-invasive therapy calibrated to each patient, designed to help reduce symptoms while allowing clinicians to monitor their patients progress in real-time.

Founders Lucy Jung, an award-winning designer driven by improving the life of those with long term conditions, and Floyd Pierres, an acute internal medicine clinician who sees first-hand the impact of neurological disorders on patients, bring complementary expertise and a common mission. 

Their journey started when first meeting Parkinson’s patients, one of whom said: “Parkinson’s has taken away many things in my life, but what I miss most is my smile. Even when I’m happy, I look angry.”

“Parkinson’s symptoms go way beyond tremors or freezing. It slowly takes away simple pleasures in life. We conceived CUE1 to give patients their lives back,” said Lucy Jung.

Charco is also announcing a strategic tech partnership with the European Parkinson’s Disease Association (EPDA), a leading organisation in the global Parkinson’s community which represents Parkinson’s organisations across Europe.

The company becomes EPDA’s newest Tech Partner alongside GE Healthcare and Insightec and becomes part of their wider partner community including Roche, Medtronic, Abbvie, Boston Scientific. 

This will support Charco’s mission to make novel therapies available to millions of people with Parkinson’s and healthcare groups, starting with the imminent launch of CUE1, which has already registered interest from over 5000 patients.

Pierre Socha, Partner, Amadeus Capital Partners said: “Parkinson’s is, sadly, the world’s fastest growing neurodegenerative condition. Yet, there is no effective treatment and the mainline therapy – a drug called Levodopa – is 50 years old and its benefit to patients is limited.

“There are an estimated 10 million people with Parkinson’s worldwide, and that number is increasing due to a myriad of factors such as an ageing population. We’re looking forward to helping Charco realise its mission and fully commercialise its technology, particularly by scaling up B2B sales, alongside its direct-to-consumer approach.”

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