This article was originally published in Start Up
Cardiak's chief goal is to help the heart heal itself. The company is developing a device that is designed to reduce the load on the heart and at the same time increase the blood supply to heart tissue, thereby promoting improved function of the patient's own heart. The device-called the AK Pulsor-could aid those patients too far along to be helped by drugs, but not sick enough to warrant the implantation of a ventricular assist device, which serves as a bridge to heart transplantation.
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After cutting his teeth on heart pump technology at re-start Impella, Rolf Kaese thought he had found the perfect vehicle to build a ventricular assist device business at Berlin Heart. But now Kaese is starting over and so is Berlin Heart after a falling out between the two, in a tale that's an object lesson to anyone who's ever had to begin again.
Medical device investors who have avoided heart failure, because of the long and uncertain development course of ventricular assist devices, should take another look. The minimally invasive revolution in heart failure, to some extent a logical extension of interventional cardiology's migration into other areas of structural heart disease like heart valves and PFOs, is providing new device opportunities, which have the potential to get to market sooner and at the same address an even larger patient population than heart failure devices that came before.
More than 80% of the ventricular assist devices in development today use an open surgical approach. CircuLite Inc. is developing a completely interventional VAD. With its percutaneous device, the company aims to extend treatment to patients at an earlier stage of heart failure, thus halting--or perhaps reversing--disease progression.