01 March 2013 – Globes
Italy’s Sorin Group has made a further investment in the company, which is developing a minimally invasive neurostimulator for treating heart failure.
Enopace Biomedical Ltd., which is developing a minimally invasive neurostimulator for the treatment of heart failure, today announced that it has raised $13 million from Italian medical device company Sorin Group SpA (BIT: SRN). Sorin also received an option to acquire Enopace for an undisclosed amount. The Italian company previously invested $7 million in Enopace, in November 2011.
Sorin also invested $5 million in Rainbow Medical. Rainbow Medical was founded by Leo Recanati’s GlenRock Israel and serial entrepreneur Yossi Gross to invest companies based on his inventions, of which Enopace is one. Rainbow’s investors include Medtronic Inc. (NYSE: MDT) and Abbott Laboratories Inc. (NYSE: ABT)
Enopace CEO Amir Dagan founded the company in 2008 together with Gross. The company’s device, an endovascular micro-stimulator that increases cardiac efficiency by reducing left ventricular workload in heart failure patients, targets an $11 billion market. This is one of the largest and most problematic cardiovascular markets.
Dagan told “Globes”, “Heart failure is a mechanical problem of pumping blood to and from the heart. Most heart failure patients are currently treated with medications.” He added that there was a need for medical devices to support the heart’s mechanical action, because drugs do not provide adequate treatment in the late stages of the disease.
Patients with severe, category 4, heart failure undergo surgery to implant various devices, which often only offer temporary solutions until a heart transplant. Several companies are trying to bring to market more permanent implants, including Israel’s BioControl Medical Ltd., another company founded on the basis of a Gross invention.
All of these devices are surgically implanted, which is where Enopace comes in: its product is implanted by catheter. “We’re talking about a 30-minute procedure carried out while the patient is awake, in contrast to a two-and-a-half hour procedure under anesthetic,” said Dagan. “Our product is therefore also relevant for patients with category 2 or 3 heart failure, and can improve their condition instead of using medication.”
Enopace’s neurostimulator is not implanted in the heart, but in the arteries. The heart’s pumping action is controlled by an electrical pulse, which expands the arteries to accept the incoming blood, reducing the effort needed by the heart muscle. Enopace’s device receives and amplifies this signal, further reducing the heart’s muscular effort.
“Enopace is the first company to pace the arteries,” says Dagan. “On the basis of this platform, we will later develop products for other diseases, such as pacemakers for the renal and pulmonary arteries, or for the treatment of hypertension in the lungs.”
Enopace’s neurostimular draws its energy from an external battery-less source, and it can be controlled by wireless to ease or intensify the stimulation. Later, the device could be used to transmit data from the body.
The neurostimular has undergone animal trials and a Phase I clinical trial. Dagan believes that the company can obtain marketing certification in Europe within 18 months, but cautions, “We still have a lot to prove.”
“Globes”: How was the relationship with Sorin created?
Dagan: “Sorin, an Italian company with global operations, is engaged in precisely this field of smart cardiology. They loved the fact that this is a product at the spearhead of new technology and with many potential applications. The company has been growing rapidly lately, launching new products and making acquisitions. We found it to be a partner with fast decision-making for a corporation. They love our technology and aren’t deterred by the technological challenges; on the contrary, they’re pleased by the challenges that we have overcome.”