Cyberonics Inc has made an initial investment of $4 million in ImThera Medical, an early-stage company developing a novel, implantable neurostimulation device for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.

The investment in ImThera can total $12 million subject to the achievement of certain regulatory and clinical milestones. Cyberonics is a minority shareholder with certain rights, including representation on ImThera’s board of directors. In addition, ImThera will raise up to $4 million from its private investors, for a total Series C placement of up to $16 million.

ImThera’s Targeted Hypoglossal Neurostimulation (THN) Sleep Therapy combines a multi-contact electrode specifically designed to control certain muscles of the tongue with an implantable pulse generator and an external programmer. The company is currently pursuing CE Mark regulatory approval in the European Union and expects to initiate a pivotal clinical trial in the United States in the near future.

"OSA affects millions of people in the United States and around the world," said Dan Moore, Cyberonics’ president and CEO. "We are excited about the opportunity to invest in a promising new therapeutic neurostimulation technology outside our core business."