Ascension Ventures leads $77M fundraise in wearable for tremors

Cala’s Trio device is FDA cleared to be used by patients with essential tremor to manage their symptoms. Photo credit: Cala Health

Ascension Ventures recently led a $77 million funding round in Cala Health, a startup with a wearable device for essential tremor. The Burlingame, Calif.-based company makes a wrist-based device that uses electrical stimulation to temporarily relieve tremor symptoms.

Essential tremor, characterized by the involuntary shaking of the hands, affects about 7 million people in the U.S.  A few treatment options currently exist, such as beta blockers, but they’re not always well tolerated.

Cala plans to use the funds to expand to additional indications and seek broader coverage of its device.

“We are honored to have Ascension Ventures join us on our journey to realize the power of bioelectronic medicine,” Cala CEO Renee Ryan said in a news release. “This investment allows us to build upon our strong foundation in treating essential tremor and develop new therapies to help more patients living with chronic disease. Our team is dedicated to closing the massive gap in patient care.”

Cala was founded in 2014 by engineer and neuroscientist Kate Rosenbluth. Ryan, a former Johnson & Johnson Innovation venture capitalist, later joined as its CEO.

The startup first received de novo FDA clearance in 2018 to aid in tremor relief, and is now looking to expand to additional indications. It received a breakthrough device designation last year to treat action tremors in adults with Parkinson’s disease.

At the same time, it’s also looking to build out relationships with payers, as it seeks reimbursement options in Medicare, commercial plans, and “payviders.” Cala recently shared the results of a post-market analysis that it plans to use to win over payers, showing a reduction in tremor strength for people that used the device more often.

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