SAN FRANCISCO — It’s too early to tell, but the total artificial heart might be the next potential medtech goldmine.
Shares of artificial heart maker Carmat climbed nearly 20% in midday trading on September 5 amidst recently confirmed rumors that the company’s technology had been successfully implanted in the second human patient.
If the technology ends up being suitable for a wide patient population and can be used as a long-term fix for major heart problems, Carmat and other artificial heart makers would have access to a huge market. Roughly 600,000 people in the United States die from heart disease each year, according to the CDC. Complicating matters is that heart transplants are in short supply, and can meet only a tiny fraction of patients with chronic terminal heart failure.
Carmat's artificial heart now has been implanted in two patients.
Enter the total artificial heart, which could be widely available in a decade’s time, according to a recent Motherboard article by journalist and futurist Zoltan Istvan.
Such a breakthrough would come none too soon for the medical device industry, which has had plenty of stumbles of late. The drug eluting stent was arguably the last blockbuster medical device the industry has come up with. It wasn’t long ago that renal denervation was thought to be the next contender for that title, but now, many are speculating that the technology could be DOA. While the rumors of renal denervation’s death may be exaggerated, the prospects of the technology have been severely limited after Medtronic failed to meet its efficacy endpoint in a pivotal clinical trial for the Symplicity renal denervation system.
Meanwhile, the number of artificial heart transplant surgeries is on the rise, Istvan notes, and more than 1,000 artificial hearts have been used -- albeit for short-term use -- in the past 35 years. In addition, more than 11,000 left-ventricular assist devices (LVADs) have been implanted. In 2010, former vice president Dick Cheney used such a device as a bridge technology before a heart transplant was made available. While originally envisioned as a bridge technology, LVADs have improved to the point that some patients are using them as a permanent treatment to help augment the work of a diseased heart.
Artificial hearts have been traditionally used to buy time while waiting for a traditional heart transplant. Carmat made news late last year after it announced the successful implantation of its artificial heart into a 76-year-old patient. Unfortunately, that recipient died 75 days later -- likely because of a short circuit.
Continue reading on EE Times sister site Qmed.