China’s Artificial Heart Pioneer magAssist Benchmarked against U.S. Stock Market Listed Company ABIOMED

Source: By: Xue YANG

On January 1, Suzhou magAssist Medical Technology Co., Ltd. (“magAssist”) completed the Series B financing of over RMB 100 million. This financing was led by Northern Light Venture Capital, followed by SND Ventures and supported by existing shareholders like Guoqian Venture Capital, Anji Yunshuo and TigerYeah Capital. The funds raised will be mainly used in the research and development, and clinical trials of existing product lines, and production expansion investment.

Founded in Suzhou High-tech Development Zone in May 2017, magAssist is mainly engaged in the development of extracorporeal life support devices for clinical scenarios like acute cardiogenic shock, circulatory protection during cardiac PCI, and severe acute organ failure. Current major product lines of magAssist include maglev extracorporeal artificial heart, interventional artificial heart and new-generation ECMO. In 2018 and in 2019, magAssist respectively completed its angel round and Series A financing, with the former led by Guoqian Venture Capital and followed by TigerYeah Capital, and the latter led by Med-Fine Capital and followed by Huatai Big Health Fund and Guoqian Venture Capital. 

magAssist is composed of top-notch artificial organ technical experts at home and abroad and domestic first-class clinical institutions. Dr. Po-Lin HSU, founder and CEO of magAssist, has about 14 years’ experience in artificial heart research and development. She is an expert of the Youth Group of the National Key Talents Project, a distinguished professor of Soochow University, and the first Chinese board member of the International Society for Mechanical Circulatory Support (ISMCS)—a leading artificial heart organization with a history about 30 years. Technical experts include leaders of the Department of Cardiovascular Engineering of the RWTH Aachen University, designers of maglev total artificial heart BIVACOR, and experts in power electronics and motor design of the University of Cambridge. Hence, magAssist has mastered magnetic levitation, computational fluid dynamics, mechatronics and other systematic technologies. To practically resolve the pain points of domestic clinical needs through the products, magAssist has worked with leading experts in cardiac surgery, cardiology and critical care medicine in China in the early stage of development of all product lines, including the team of Academician Junbo GE of Shanghai Zhongshan Hospital and the team of Professor Nianguo DONG with the Surgery Department of Wuhan Union Hospital of China. These concerted efforts are intended to precisely develop clinical products urgently needed by the Chinese patients, and scientifically and effectively promote the clinical trials and applications of various product lines. 


Benchmarked against the USD 14.7 Billion Unicorn Abiomed, magAssist is Committed to Delivering Short and Medium-term Life Support Platform Solutions

Under the influence of COVID-19 this year, the international community is drawing its attention to ECMO, an extracorporeal life support (ECLS) device. The attention-drawing ECMO is a part of ECLS which is a life support technology to provide cardiorespiratory failure patients with (partial or whole) cardiopulmonary function support for days to months through mechanical devices. 

For doctors, ECLS devices can help them save patients at the death’s door.

In addition to ECMO, ventricular assist devices (VAD) are also important devices in ECLS. A VAD is an assist device to drain the blood from the atrium or the ventricle, increase the blood pressure through the blood pump, and then return it to the arterial system, partially or wholly performing the functions of heart to maintain the blood circulation.

VAD can be divided into extracorporeal artificial hearts and intracorporeal artificial hearts. Intracorporeal artificial hearts are used to replace the heart function in patients with end-stage chronic heart failure in the long term. Chronic heart failure is irreversible and develops in steps, which can be sustained by drugs in the early stages, but requires a heart transplant or an intracorporeal artificial heart in the later stages. Extracorporeal artificial hearts (short and medium-term cardiopulmonary bypass auxiliary devices) are applied to transitional treatment in patients with acute heart failure in the advanced stage, to perform the functions of heart in the short and medium term, so that the patients can pull through the dangerous period and recover.

Although ECLS devices were used in foreign countries as early as more than 10 years ago, only ECMO devices are available in China nowadays and extracorporeal artificial hearts with better blood compatibility and longer service time are yet to be introduced to China. Faced with so many patients with advanced heart failure, heart surgeons can hardly do anything. On the industry side, fewer companies are engaged in the development of extracorporeal artificial hearts as well.

Severe acute organ failure is an extremely complex clinical scenario, and the provision of precise treatment according to the patient’s course of disease is the key to improving survival rate. Treatment needs can be divided in the following two scenarios: (1) Due to the large number of early and progressive patients received in the internal medicine or emergency department, there is a huge unmet clinical need for patients who are currently failing to respond to drug therapy. Rapid cardiopulmonary bypass or respiratory oxygenation support can be given to patients to reverse or slow down the process of organ failure in the early stage; (2) In the severe stage of organ failure, it’s difficult for the surgical or critical care department to make a clinical decision when the patient’s circulation is unstable. At this moment, a safe, effective and cost-effective way to recover the stability of the circulatory system and transit to the optimal treatment end point will enable the patient to be discharged safely and restore long-term quality of life. In response to complex demand matrix for acute cardiopulmonary failure and domestic clinical pain points, magAssist has made a comprehensive layout of new-generation ECMO and interventional artificial heart product lines based on maglev extracorporeal artificial heart technology. Full-scenario platform solutions are provided to satisfy different requirements on operation convenience, circulation support flow, support time and other aspects, so as to meet the segmented needs of different stages of disease and different clinical departments.

The benchmark company of magAssist is Abiomed (ABMD) with a market cap as high as USD 14.7 billion and the world’s only FDA certified interventional artificial heart Impella series product platform. Requiring no surgical implantation, Impella can be transcatheterized for short-term circulation support. First developed by an institute of the RWTH Aachen University, Impella technology is expanded to more indications after its acquisition by Abiomed and approval of FDA: from high-risk PCI intraoperative protection (< 6 hours) to protection of high-risk PCI patients with or without reduced EF and to high-risk PCI long-hour protection (6 to 12 hours). Since the product was launched in the U.S. in 2015, its sales have increased by more than 30% annually, with more than 30,000 implants in 2019. The annual revenue of Abiomed amounts to about USD 800 million, the majority of which comes from the sales of Impella.

For blood compatibility requirement of medium-term circulatory support, CentriMag is currently the golden standard of blood compatibility in extracorporeal artificial hearts. In clinical application, the circulatory support time can reach more than 30 days. Acquired by Abbot in 2015, CentriMag can be used independently as an extracorporeal artificial heart for full flow support or in combination with an extracorporeal membrane lung to provide combined cardiopulmonary support (ECMO). ECMO has drawn extensive attention due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. Technically limited, however, the Chinese market is currently monopolized by imported products, with Maquet taking up over 70% of the market shares and Medtronic and Sorin accounting for the remaining market shares. In 2018, the global market size of ECMO reached about USD 300 million and the Chinese potential market size accounted for RMB 1.8 billion.

Within a short span of three years, the full-maglev extracorporeal artificial heart of magAssist has been put its into clinical trials, the excellent performance and blood compatibility of which was released at the ISMCS Conference held in Italy in 2019, winning the recognition of international experts. At present, magAssist’s extracorporeal artificial heart 30-day animal experiments show excellent blood compatibility index data, no hemolysis or thrombosis, and internationally advanced performance. The interventional artificial heart and ECMO are now under clinical research and development. Starting from 2023, magAssist is expected to put at least one high-barrier Class III product into clinical trials. 

Dr. Po-Lin HSU, founder of magAssist, revealed, “Focusing on the corporate mission of ‘continuously bringing the most valuable technologies and services to users and patients in short and medium-term life support, and providing patients with new opportunities’, we will be oriented to the world based in China. Putting patients, doctors and professionals first, we will explore patients’ needs, listen to clinical pain points, and build a talent team. Starting from cardiopulmonary support, we will establish a multi-organ support platform to form the last line of defense for severe acute organ failure and save those who can be saved.”

Mr. Feng DENG, founding managing partner of Northern Light Venture Capital—a leading investor for this series of financing, said, “Heart failure is a rare broad track with a potential market size of over RMB 10 billion in the cardiovascular sector. With the aging of population and the course extension of basic cardiovascular diseases, we believe that the inflection point of the Chinese heart failure device treatment market is approaching. In the future, the growth of China’s medical device market lies in the innovation and technology driven devices. The strategic layout of magAssist has a huge imagination space in the treatment and prevention of cardiogenic shock. The magAssist team has been long engaged in artificial heart development for many years and has developed an international vision. In consideration that magAssist is a platform-based company with long-term growth potential, we look forward to the early introduction of its products into the clinical treatment of the vast number of severe acute patients.”

Xu ZHANG, founding partner of Guoqian Venture Capital—a regular shareholder of magAssist, said, “Guoqian Venture Capital has supported the growth of magAssist for three years as an angel investor, and magAssist has perfectly interpreted the accurate investment logic of three dots into a line of Guoqian Venture Capital, technological innovation and breakthrough, rigid clinical demand and a large market size. We look forward to magAssist accelerating its continuous completion of product layout, developing platform-based solutions of emergency and critical ECLS systems for different groups of people, different auxiliary needs and different clinical scenarios, and serving patients all over the world as soon as possible.” 

Min DONG, general manager of SND Ventures, revealed, “It is a great pleasure to participate in magAssist’s Series B financing. It’s the duty of SND Ventures, as an equity investment platform of Financial Holding Group, to support excellent start-ups in the area. With team members composed of industry leaders, SND Ventures has tremendous technical strength, manufactures highly technical products and fills in the gap in the domestic market, making it a star medical device enterprise in Suzhou High-tech Development Zone. This series of financing has drawn the attention of domestically-leading institutional investors. We hope that the products of magAssist can be launched to the market successfully with concerted efforts, and magAssist can grow into a leader of the artificial heart industry at an early date.”

Xin ZHAO, managing director of Anji Yunshuo, pointed out, “The extracorporeal artificial heart developed by magAssist is the blue ocean market in the global artificial heart sector, and an important field of strategic investment of Anji Yunshuo. We believe that the full-maglev drive combined with the latest computational fluid dynamics technology adopted by magAssist can not only bring blood compatibility comparable to the international golden standard, but also provide cost-effective, flexible and more stable transitional mechanical circulation support to patients with acute heart failure and cardiogenic shock. Anji Yunshuo has faith in magAssist and believes that magAssist will grow into China’s leader in the artificial heart industry, facilitate the global development of the industry and benefit the patients across the world.”

Dr. Tianrong JI, general manager of TigerYeah Capital, introduced, “Heart medical devices are highly risky and difficult to make, and have rigorous standards and requirements, which are high-difficulty innovations in the world. magAssist has a well-dominated R&D team, R&D experience in advanced heart medical devices, a rational product layout and a high technical threshold. Its extracorporeal artificial heart magAssist (benchmarked against CentriMag, the world’s only congeneric product approved to be launched) and minimally invasive interventional artificial heart (benchmarking Impella, the world’s only congeneric product approved to be launched) will surely benefit China’s large number of heart disease patients. As the angel investor of magAssist, TigerYeah Capital will continue to give strong support to its innovative development.” 


About Northern Light Venture Capital

Founded by Mr. Feng DENG in 2005, Northern Light Venture Capital takes on the mission of “growing world-class Chinese entrepreneurs and enterprises” and has been investing in outstanding early-stage technological innovation enterprises. Thus far, Northern Light Venture Capital has invested in about 400 outstanding enterprises in TMT, advanced technology, medical care and health. Entering the medical care and health sector in 2009 and preliminarily forming the medical team in 2011, Northern Light Venture Capital has expanded its investment to medical devices, in vitro diagnostics, biomedicine, medical services and E-health to cover almost the whole industry chain within the past ten years. About 60 enterprises in the medical care and health sector have received its investment, including CITIC Pharmaceutical, BGI, Burning Rock DX, Zelgen Biopharmaceuticals, iRay Technology, Taimei Medical Technology, Annoroad and Guoke Hengtai.  


About SND Ventures

Restructured in 2008, SND Ventures has established a fund investment system covering angel investment, VC, PE, industry and M&A private placement in the full-life cycle of enterprises. Thus far, SND Ventures has set up 50 funds, held shares in about 300 fund investment projects, and supported the listing of 37 Shanghai and Shenzhen based enterprises (including 6 enterprises on the science and technology innovation board) and a batch of enterprises on the NEEQ. Driving the development of regional venture capital investment and carrying out marketized operation of RMB 10 billion High-tech Development Zone Industry Guide Fund and RMB 300 million High-tech Innovation Angel Fund of Funds, SND Ventures has vigorously directed financial resources and social capital to entities.

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