QuantumCor Sees Future of Heart Failure Treatment in No Device Left Behind

11/2/09Follow @xconomy

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like Cordis before it was acquired by Johnson & Johnson, Cardiac Pacemakers (a forerunner of Guidant, which is now part of Boston Scientific), and as a CEO entrepreneur at CardioMetrix, VascuSense, and others. He joined QuantumCor about a year and a half ago. “The company needed someone to take a great idea, and some part-time engineers, and make it into a real company,” Dahl says.

QuantumCor has raised about $3 million so far, and with that, it has assembled some preliminary evidence that gives it enough confidence to take its device into clinical trials. The company performed a study in 16 sheep, and found consistent shrinkage of the tissue near the mitral valve in all of them, with an average tissue reduction of 21.7 percent. When seven of the animals were followed for six months, the tissue shrinkage appeared to plateau after 90 days, and the average shrinkage by the end of the study was 26 percent, Dahl says.

Of course, sheep aren’t the same as people. So QuantumCor also did a small study with its technology on 11 human cadaver hearts. It found the same shrinkage consistently in that cadaver study, with little variation among older, diseased hearts, and younger, healthier hearts, Dahl says.

If this kind of result can be repeated in clinical trials, it should translate into the kind of treatment goals that U.S. and European regulators want to see with a new treatment for mitral valve regurgitation, Dahl says. He’s hopeful he’ll have a compelling business case to make to doctors and insurers as well. The QuantumCor technology requires an outpatient procedure that takes 60 to 90 minutes in the hospital catheterization lab, one to two days of patient recovery time, and will cost $20,000 to $25,000, Dahl estimates. The current surgery typically requires more than six days in the hospital and costs can exceed $100,000, he says.

It will take more venture capital for QuantumCor to assemble the evidence it needs to get this device closer to the marketplace. Dahl is currently on the fundraising trail for the $10 million Series B venture round. So far, he has received a commitment from Seattle-based Denny Hill Capital to lead the round, and Dahl is looking for other investors to fill out the syndicate, he says.

Scoring that kind of venture capital will be no small task in this very rough year for medical devices, which I outlined a few weeks ago based on a new industry report from Ernst & Young. And it’s hard to ask too many specifics about realistic timelines for clinical trial results before the company has deposited the capital in the bank.

If QuantumCor gets the money, the endgame, like with many medical device companies, will be to get acquired by a bigger device company. Dahl was quick to point to a couple of deals from this year that he considered benchmarks for what QuantumCor can achieve—Medtronic’s $700 million acquisition of Irvine, CA-based CoreValve, and Abbott Laboratories’ acquisition of Menlo Park, CA-based Evalve for $410 million. If such a deal happens, QuantumCor’s investors will be rewarded, and it will be the bigger company’s job to carry the baton the rest of the way to the ultimate goal of bringing the technology to the market.

“My vision is to develop technology that works for patients much earlier in the disease, before they get really sick,” Dahl says.

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  • Saumitra

    Thanks Luke ! Great article.. Puget Sound is one of the hottest hubs for Dx companies..