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Halifax-based PhotoDynamic, Inc. has closed a $2.3 million round of financing, which will help to finance the launch of its teeth-cleaning product in the autumn of this year.
The company’s CEO Martin Greenwood told Entrevestor a year ago that the company was aiming to raise at least $1.35 million, and it has handily exceeded that figure. More important, one of the lead investors is the American Association of Orthodontists, or AAO, a group that will be key to bringing the product to market. The funders also include Charlottetown-based Natural Products Canada and Island Capital Partners.
PhotoDynamic is developing a device that uses natural extracts from a wild Nova Scotia plant to erase heavy plaque buildup on teeth. Such buildups are an unwanted side-effect of wearing braces, so PhotoDynamic plans to market the product by selling it through orthodontists.
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After receiving surprisingly strong results from its first clinical trials, Halifax-based PhotoDynamic has altered its business strategy to build up more value in the company before contemplating an exit.
PhotoDynamic is developing a device that uses natural extracts from a wild Nova Scotia plant to erase heavy plaque buildup on teeth. Last spring, it took the device through a two-week clinical trial with 20 patients at Boston’s Forsyth Institute, which specializes in dental sciences.
Those trials showed that, in just two weeks, the PhotoDynamic device made noticeable improvements in patients’ conditions. With that in mind, the company is aiming to raise a $1.35 million round of equity funding so that by late 2020 it can be selling the product to Canadian brace-wearers through orthodontists.
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By Peter Moreira
Halifax-based PhotoDynamic Inc. will put its plaque-killing oral health product through clinical trials in the next month, the outcome of which will shape its strategy for the next few years.
The company will test its product with 20 patients at the Forsyth Institute in Boston, one of the world’s most prestigious research facilities in the field of oral health. If it gets good results from these tests, the company plans to work closely with a Fortune 100 consumer products company to bring the product to market.
That product — called PD Foam and PD Tray — is a system that kills plaque buildup on teeth through a combination of light and an extract from a plant that grows wild in Nova Scotia. Because the plant is known to be safe for human consumption, the product has a relatively simple regulatory path. Its initial target market is the one-fifth of the population who suffer from excessive plaque buildup on their teeth regardless of how much they brush.
“We’ll start in a few weeks and have the results by January,” said CEO Martin Greenwood in an interview. “If the results are good, it will be easy to raise our next round (of financing) and then we’ll be moving on to a larger trial.”
In the spring of 2016, PhotoDynamic raised $250,000 in equity funding through the First Angel Network, and supplemented that capital with money from government programs. The company, which grew out of research by Acadia University professor Sherri McFarland, has remained lean with four employees and used the FAN money to build a working prototype.
PhotoDynamic has developed foam made from the plant extract, which the user places in the top and bottom trays of a special mouthpiece, like a mouthguard a hockey player would wear and which contains LED lights. Users turn on the lights, place the device in their mouth for one minute, and the plaque is gone.
So far the system has killed plaque successfully in a petri dish and in animal tests, but surprises can crop up in human trials, Greenwood said. For example, 10 subjects will be given the PhotoDynamic device and the other 10 a placebo, to establish a clear gap between plaque buildup in the two groups. If a few of the 10 placebo-takers obsessively brush their teeth all day, it could skew the results.
Greenwood feels confident in the PD Foam and Tray and believes the company has positioned itself to proceed promptly with its commercialization. It has built up a strong working relationship with its multinational partner (whom Greenwood declines to name publicly), and that could help bring the product to market.
PhotoDynamic has also strengthened its board, recently adding former Johnson & Johnson consumer products CTO Neal Matheson and Barry Turner, a former vice-president of global complimentary medicines with Warner-Lambert.
Assuming the trials are successful, Greenwood plans to raise about $1.5 million to take the company through the next two years. In that period he hopes to fine-tune the engineering of the product and carry out more thorough clinical trials, involving about 75-125 people over six months.
Then Greenwood plans to sell the oral health product to a large company that can develop it, and PhotoDynamic will use the proceeds to work on other applications for the plant extract.
“The way to really grow this company is to say, ‘We’re the people that can really take this technology to its potential,’” he said. “Let us be the R&D hub. . . . What we want to do is hit a home run and take the funds and reinvest them into the next one.”]]>
entrevestor.com, by Peter Moreira
July 8, 2016 – Halifax-based PhotoDynamic Inc. has raised funding from members of the First Angel Network, which will help bring its oral hygiene product to market.
Formerly called Fenol Farm, PhotoDynamic has developed a system that kills plaque buildup on teeth through a combination of light and an extract from a plant that grows wild in Nova Scotia. The company plans to launch the product in the Canadian orthodontic market in early 2017.
First Angel co-founder Brian Lowe declined to say how much money members of the Halifax-based network invested in PhotoDynamic. “What I can tell you is that our level of funding met PDI’s expectations and their opportunity was well received by the FAN members,” he said in an email.
PhotoDynamic CEO Martin Greenwood recently told the Atlantic Venture Forum the company was looking for about $600,000 in funding.
“We’ve discovered a really exciting platform technology,” Greenwood said in a statement. “The money we’ve raised through FAN will fund the final pieces of our commercialization program and turn this technology into our first product.”
PhotoDynamic grew out of research led by Sherri McFarland, a professor at Acadia University. She and co-founder Colin Cameron discovered a group of compounds extracted from an invasive species of plants that can be activated by light to kill certain cells. In fact, they found the combination of compound and light kills plaque.
They devised an oral tray that looks like a sports mouth-guard, which contains tiny LED lights. The users place foam made from the plant extract in the tray, put it in their mouths and switch on the lights.
Within a minute or two, the plaque on their teeth is killed.
The product also has a digital component so it automatically tells orthodontists, dental professionals or parents how often it has been used.
McFarland led the company through its early stages and won $100,000 as a zonal winner in the 2014 I-3 Technology Startup Competition. Last year, Greenwood joined the company to bring the product to market.
PhotoDynamic has identified several markets for the product, but Greenwood said it plans to find its first clients by selling through orthodontists. Braces produce a plaque buildup where the metal meets the teeth. It can produce a side effect called white spot lesions in as many as 90 per cent of all brace patients. This permanently stains the teeth and can cause tooth sensitivity.
“So far we’ve surveyed five percent of all Canadian orthodontists, and adoption intent is far higher than our business model predictions,” Greenwood told the Venture Forum.
The company plans to eventually move into the consumer market, with a product that can be sold over-the-counter in drug stores. The product can also benefit those individuals known as rapid plaque formers, a group comprising one-fifth of the North American population who suffer from a high buildup of plaque.
PhotoDynamic said the funds raised from FAN members will be used mainly for user testing, consumer product development, and preparation for the product launch. PhotoDynamic is working with Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Dentistry and the Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, Mass. to conduct human clinical trials.
“In 2017, this product will create a brand new oral hygiene category for orthodontists and brace wearers, but that will be only the beginning,” said Greenwood. “This technology can revolutionize oral hygiene for everyone.”]]>
PhotoDynamic Inc. (PDI) is a testament to the ever pivoting start-up. Originally developed as an agri-tech plant extraction company named Fenol Farm Inc., the business quickly morphed into a bacteria killing natural health product company, targeting oral bacteria and the oral hygiene market. The extent of the pivoting led the business to change the company name in November 2014 to better reflect the market and industry they compete in.
Now firmly planted in the life sciences industry, PDI is focused on providing Orthodontists tools to combat oral hygiene related tooth decay. Teeth fitted with braces are tough to clean, and worse, bacteria that collect around them cause permanent damage and lead to unsightly white spot lesions. PDI’s technology allows orthodontists to fit braces and send patients home with a medical device and natural paste that kills all the bacteria around the brace brackets and completely eliminates the damage caused by bacteria.
PDI’s C0-founder, Dr. Sherri McFarland has been developing synthetic compounds to kill cancer cells for nearly a decade as a chemistry professor at Acadia University. These same compounds are effective antibiotics, and her discovery of a natural source of similar compounds led her to investigate their anti bacterial properties.
Now PDI’s proprietary natural plant extract, provides the activity for their natural oral hygiene product. Aft er two years of research and pivoting towards the Orthodontic market, PDI is gearing up for its first human safety study and is planning to launch its first product in September 2016. As we strive for the perfect smile and healthy teeth, PDI is positioning itself to be a critical tool for perfection. Let’s all smile for PDIs continued success.