Recently, extracorporeal artificial heart device developer magAssist has completed its Series B financing of over RMB 100 million, which was led by Northern Light Venture Capital and followed by SND Ventures and existing shareholders. Previously magAssist had received investments from Med-Fine Capital, Huatai Big Health Fund and Guoqian Venture Capital. It’s learned that magAssist will mainly use this series of funds for clinical trials of maglev extracorporeal artificial hearts, research and development of interventional artificial hearts and new-generation ECMO system, as well as animal experiments.
Founded in Suzhou High-tech Development Zone in May 2017, magAssist is headed by Dr. Po-Lin HSU, a distinguished professor of Soochow University, and has an international team long engaged in artificial heart research and development. The magAssist team boasts international expert resources, industry experience and strong execution. On the basis of mechatronics, maglev and computational fluid dynamics and other core platform technologies, magAssist is committed to building a new-generation ECLS platform for severe acute patients.
In response to rigid clinical demands for life support devices for acute cardiogenic shock and severe acute organ failure, magAssist has first launched maglev extracorporeal artificial heart, interventional artificial heart and new-generation ECMO product lines. The maglev extracorporeal artificial hearts will be put into clinical trials soon.
In fact, an artificial heart works as a “pump” of the human body. When the heart is “underpowered”, an extra pump is needed to maintain the metabolism of organs and blood circulation. At present, most artificial hearts used clinically are implantable artificial hearts. These artificial hearts mainly play a “substitute” role. When patients have an irreversible end-stage heart failure, they can maintain vital signs only through heart transplantation.
If patients with heart failure faced a sea of uncertainties, the maglev extracorporeal artificial heart would be a boat for crossing the sea.
The maglev extracorporeal artificial heart is designed to provide short and medium-term “transitional” life support, so as to gain treatment time and possibility for patients and doctors. Taking acute myocardial infarction and acute myocarditis as an example, during an attack, the power of the heart or the “pump” suddenly fails, and patients can’t immediately decide whether to “replace” the heart or not. At this time, an external power is needed to rapidly perform the functions of heart to maintain a stable blood supply to the organs of the body. If the heart can continue to function normally after “pacification”, there will be no need for more interventions; if the heart fails to recover, patients will need to consider a heart transplant or a long-term artificial heart implant. ECMO works similarly to play a “transitional” role of pulmonary function temporarily.
Since an extracorporeal artificial heart is the power source of human circulatory system, an integrated extracorporeal life support system can be formed with an extracorporeal membrane lung or other organ modules.
The current Chinese market still offers much room for the development of maglev extracorporeal artificial hearts. According to Dr. HSU, the development opportunity of this track lies in clinical needs. Before maglev extracorporeal artificial hearts were put into clinical trials, the magAssist team had found, through communication with Wuhan Union Hospital of China, Guangdong Cardiovascular Institute and other hospitals and research institutions, that “Made in China” has gained extensive recognition, and people yearn to develop domestically made medical devices through proprietary technologies. As pointed out by Dr. HSU, what magAssist needs to do is to explore doctors’ needs based on clinical pain points, satisfy varying clinical needs through leading manufacturing ability, better serve doctors and patients and fill in the clinical gap of extracorporeal artificial hearts in China.
Dr. HSU added, “ ICU is currently the main application scenario of maglev extracorporeal artificial hearts, and we will continue to apply it to ambulances, health trains and other scenarios. Through mechatronics technology, therefore, magAssist has made artificial hearts more energy-efficient, more shock-resistant and smaller in size, and enhanced product portability and flexibility of scenario applications.”
To overcome the problem of blood compatibility, magAssist has adopted the multi-disciplinary technological path. In a traditional artificial heart, the structure of “mechanical bearing centrifugal pump” is mostly used. The contact point of the mechanical bearing will easily produce thermal friction, which will lead to obstruction of blood flow, and subsequently blood deposition and thrombosis. The maglev technology, however, eliminates mechanical contact point, thus dispenses with mechanical contact in the blood flow and reduces the risk of thrombosis. Furthermore, the computational fluid dynamics technology can reduce the negative impact of the shear force caused by rotation, the temperature rise because of friction and the stagnant area of flow on the blood, so as to improve the blood compatibility and ensure compliance with the international golden standard of blood compatibility.
It is difficult to engage in medical research and development, and more difficult to engage in the research and development of the artificial core organ of the human body. “We are in a state of mutual restraint and compromise every day, and perhaps this is the adult’s pain,” Dr. HSU said with a smile. It is the use of multidisciplinary technologies that helps the formation of the contradiction between disciplines. What the magAssist team needs to do is to strike a balance and optimize.
In the international market, an implantable artificial heart is priced at about USD 100,000, but an extracorporeal artificial heart is available at a one tenth of the price. According to Dr. HSU, magAssist will start from clinical partners and build its market presence from regional large-sized medical centers to local hospitals during the commercialization stage.
In terms of patented technology, magAssist has applied for patents for its core technologies both at home and abroad. PCT patents have been applied for a number of achievements and international review reports have been received. Next, magAssist will focus on the research and development of new product pipelines to achieve a total product layout.
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 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.”
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 a team 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 successfully launched to the market with concerted efforts, and magAssist can grow into a leader in artificial hearts at an early date.”
Source: Kuailiyu.com, by Jiaping ZHOU