GE funds Israeli MR-guided HIFU maker

February 27, 2012
by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor
GE Healthcare is giving up to $13.7 million in convertible loans to an Israeli company it partly owns that's developing MR-guided focused ultrasound technologies, according to a release.

Elibt Imaging Ltd. said Monday its subsidiary reached a deal with GE to provide the financing to InSigthtec Ltd., a Tirat Carmel-based company owned by GE, Elbit and MediTech Advisors.

The loans, which can be converted into company stock, carry 6 percent interest, and come due in October 2016.

Founded in 1999 by Elbit Medical and GE, InSightec has developed a system that uses MR imaging to guide focused blasts of ultrasound to heat up and destroy tumors or other bothersome tissue.

InSightec's first system, called ExAblate, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004 for zapping uterine fibroids, and is the only MR-guided HIFU to get FDA approval, the company said. GE supplies the MR portion of the unit, according to the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation, an HIFU promotional group.

Last month, InSightec said it had applied to the FDA to expand indications of the product to include treatment of bone pain in cancer patients. This treatment, which destroys nerve tissue in bones, is already available at some sites in the UK, Israel, Russia, Spain and Italy, according to information on a website maintained by the company.

The FUSF says studies are currently underway to see if MR-guided focused ultrasound can be used in other conditions, such as breast cancer and essential tremor. About 150 sites currently use the technology, according to information given by Jacques Coumans, general manager for premium and interventional MRI, on the FUSF website.