Millions of people suffer from stroke each year, with drastic outcomes and tremendous costs to society. VeoSource was founded in 2014 with the objective to provide a novel approach to shield the brain against the threat of cerebral embolism, which is the interruption of blood flow in a part of the brain.
VeoSource runs its operations from Lausanne, Switzerland, where the company has developed a proprietary IP portfolio, built its executive team, and collaborates with international experts while designing and developing its first product, AURA.
Edouard Fonck is the CEO of VeoSource with more than 16 years of experience in the life sciences and the medical device space. He has held various key positions within different departments and successful early-stage companies and has created an incubator turning bright ideas into thriving start-ups. Providing solutions to key challenges, such as the prevention of stroke, is what drives his leadership.
Aude Yulzari is the Clinical Director of VeoSource. She is a MedTech expert with more than 20 years of experience. Aude focuses on organising VeoSource’s clinical and regulatory pathway with the best-in-class partners, in a lean way.
What Keeps the Team Awake at Night?
“We try and have at least one person sleeping well!” says Edouard Fonck.
But in the meantime, given Edouard and Aude’s respective roles and personal preoccupations, the other might be wondering:
- What may go wrong when the financing is too slow and they are not able to reach the next milestones while the competition is progressing in terms of scientific data collection with their respective short-term protection concept (increasing the market share of cerebral protection in aortic valve replacement is actually positive news for them);
- Who is the best partner/employee to choose for a fruitful, long-term collaboration;
- When the team will be able to meet all the key opinion leaders face-to-face again in one conference.
What Problem Does AURA Solve, and What Makes It Unique?
“AURA is our novel product, and the only known embolic protection device that will provide both immediate protection against stroke and protection during several days for patients undergoing aortic valve replacement,” explains Edouard Fonck.
AURA is composed of a fine protective filter. The device is deployed within the aortic arch below the irrigating cerebral arteries at the beginning of the aortic valve replacement procedure. While AURA is in position, thrombus and debris are diverted away from the cerebral vasculature, thus reducing the risk for stroke. The device is then removed with a standard retrieval system in a separate procedure before the patient goes back home.
In comparison with other marketed embolic protection devices, the AURA device expands the window of brain embolic protection beyond the duration of the aortic valve implant procedure, which is when most strokes occur. By extending the protection duration to the high-risk period, the AURA device may prevent a larger proportion of neurological events.
How Did It All Start, and Where Are You Now on the Road to Achieve Your Ambition?
“After an initial seed funding of VeoSource, we’ve been able to complete the concept phase and are now finalising the technical development to perform first in human next year,” shares Mr. Fonck.
The team have added knowledge and expertise internally and have built key partnerships with manufacturing and key opinion leaders. Venture Capital funding will be crucial to run successful clinical trials, which are required to gain market access and achieve AURA’s goal of stroke prevention.
“When we delivered a presentation about AURA, demonstrating the product and its concept, a key opinion leader from Switzerland immediately told us how elegant and smart our solution is,” says Aude Yulzari.
He expressed the wish to be the first one to implant it. His input has been key for VeoSource to develop AURA, and in return, he’s being more sensitive to the timing strokes that will eventually become detectable in the patients he treats.
“Every achievement counts towards our goal to design, develop and launch successfully a lasting embolic protection device to prevent stroke. There is a long list of achievements that are all ‘big’. However, what the team is most proud of is the fruitful completion of our first in-vivo study in a timely manner,” proudly shares Mr. Fonck.
This achievement changed the dynamic of the company as it put them a step closer to a safe and effective device.
What Influenced the Team’s Vision?
“The prevention of stroke is a challenge that has always attracted both of us, and we can also speak for the entire team. From my side, I have witnessed close relatives suffering from stroke. This has drastically impacted their life and the life of the ones around them,” explains Edouard Fonck.
When he met with Dr. Verin, the Co-Founder of VeoSource – who shared his idea to develop a technology to protect all patients at risk of stroke – Edouard was immediately drawn by his vision. Having witnessed the cost of stroke to close ones and getting the support from his colleagues and family, Mr. Fonck decided to take on the challenge to develop and commercialise products preventing stroke.
Future Impact of AURA and VeoSource
VeoSource is dedicated to protecting people’s brains from thrombus and debris (emboli), which trigger devastating strokes.
“We are specialising in a critical medical issue and on a mission to develop a variety of innovative solutions around it, when other small companies are focussed on just one clinical procedure,” say Edouard Fonck and Aude Yulzari.
The team is starting from the tip of the iceberg – transcatheter aortic valve replacement – and looking towards the broad population of patients with long-term stroke prevention needs (i.e., heart failure and atrial fibrillation).
Connection with InvestHorizon
InvestHorizon is a great platform where other funders and leaders can share experiences and seek advice on challenges they are facing while raising funding.
“From our point of view, InvestHorizon allowed us to rehearse our pitch, reviewed the content of the presentations during workshops, and offered us the chance to meet peers with whom we now have close relationships.
What makes InvestHorizon attractive for funders and leaders are its network, its free online courses, and the invaluable access to knowledge and experiences,” concludes Edouard Fonck.