Fiver Liters nets $500K to develop blood, bleeding disorder therapies

Company is focusing on wearable device to stimulate vagus nerve

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by Steve Bryson, PhD |

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Venture philanthropy fund Pathway to Cures (P2C)) has invested $500,000 in Five Liters, which is developing noninvasive, nonpharmacological neuromodulation therapies for treating inheritable blood and bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia and von Willebrand disease (VWD).

“Investing in Five Liters’ early-stage research is a critical step in addressing unmet needs of patients living with inheritable blood and bleeding disorders through innovative noninvasive, nonpharmacological treatments,” Michael Recht, MD, PhD, chief medical and scientific officer at P2C and the National Bleeding Disorders Foundation (NBDF) and chair of the P2C scientific advisory group, said in a press release. P2C is an affiliate of the NBDF and supports early-stage companies’ work in developing treatments for blood and bleeding disorders.

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Focus of Five Liters

Five Liters, a subsidiary of Spark Biomedical, is developing wearable treatment options that would electrically stimulate the vagus nerve of people having excessive blood loss. The nerve enables communication between the brain and the rest of the body, interacting with all major organs to control involuntary bodily functions, such as heart rate, breathing, and immune function.

Their focus is to prevent life-threatening bleeding episodes associated with blood loss from surgery, traumatic bleeding, and inheritable bleeding disorders.

In a recent study, vagus nerve stimulation reduced blood loss by 75% and enhanced clot formation after an injury in a mouse model of hemophilia A, a bleeding disorder caused by the lack of factor VIII (FVIII), a blood clotting protein.

Vagus nerve stimulation was also found to be as effective as FVIII replacement therapy, the standard treatment for hemophilia A. It also promoted local blood clot formation close to the injury site and didn’t affect blood flow in the rest of the body nor cause tissue damage.

Five Liters will first prioritize clinical trials on VWD, the most prevalent inherited bleeding disorder. It’s caused by mutations in the VWF gene, which provides instructions to make von Willebrand factor (VWF), a protein that’s crucial to blood clotting. The research is part of a collaboration between Five Liters and Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in New York.

“Our deep admiration for the bleeding disorders community and the Pathway to Cures organization stems from their unwavering commitment to advancing novel treatments,” said Daniel Powell, CEO of Five Liters and Spark Biomedical. “This investment is not only an honor, but a testament to their confidence in our capability to introduce an evidence-based, innovative, nonpharmacological solution in an area where affordable medical options are limited.”