CircuLite Attracts Big Support for Tiny Heart-Assist Device
Yesterday Saddle Brook, NJ-based CircuLite announced it received a $950,000 grant to develop a device for patients whose hearts have been weakened by pulmonary arterial hypertension, a rare and potentially fatal disease. The award, which came from the Cardiovascular Medical Research and Education Fund, was the latest vote of confidence in CircuLite’s core technology—a miniscule, implantable pump that’s designed to boost the heart’s ability to circulate blood.
The grant followed close on the heels of CircuLite’s latest financing, a $30 million Series D funding round that was oversubscribed. The financing, announced November 30, brought the total amount raised by the device maker to $99 million.
CEO Paul Southworth says CircuLite will funnel the new money into an ambitious list of goals he has established for 2012. The company expects to gain approval for its device, called Synergy, in Europe and to begin marketing it there for patients with chronic heart failure. CircuLite is also planning its first U.S. trials. And it’s developing a second generation of Synergy that can be implanted without major surgery.
CircuLite was founded in 2004 in a startup incubator called Accelerated Technologies Inc. (ATI), which was run by cardiologists. They recognized a hole in the cardiac-devices market: So-called ventricular assist devices were great for very sick patients. But those in the earlier stages of heart failure had no good treatment options. “There was an opportunity to get to patients before they got so sick,” Southworth says. “These are patients who have run the course on drugs or heart-rhythm management. There’s no place for them to go but to continue to worsen and fall into that late stage.”
Synergy works by supplementing the heart’s natural ability to pump blood. The device, about the size of a AA battery, is implanted by heart surgeons in a 90-minute procedure called … Next Page »