AF Ablation: Finding the Right Mix
For a number of reasons, 2009 was a big year for the atrial fibrillation ablation market. Early in the year, Biosense Webster received FDA approval for its radiofrequency ablation catheter, the first such device to launch in the US with a specific AF indication. That approval was much more than just a landmark event for J&J; it changed the landscape of the AF industry, reinvigorating interest in the funding and development of new catheter-based technologies--a trend that has extended through to 2010 and will likely continue in the years ahead.
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Device therapies for atrial fibrillation (AF) have so far failed to result in compelling efficacy across all types of disease and patients. The rates of elimination of AF following a catheter ablation procedure range from 30% to 80% according to the type of patient and the definition of success. The question of why success rates aren’t yet sufficient after a great deal of investment is an area of active pursuit, and one that opens up the door for next-generation AF device companies seeking to improve upon the results achieved to date.
Presenters at a day-long AF Symposium held just prior to this year's Heart Rhythm Society meeting lamented the disappointing long-term results with AF ablation and spoke about upcoming technological advances in catheters and adjunctive tools that may improve the procedure's efficacy and durability.
iRhythm Technologies, which has been quietly working on a new platform in arrhythmia monitoring since 2006, came forward with much éclat at the 2010 Heart Rhythm Society Meeting in May. There the company made a two-part announcement: the signing of a co-marketing agreement with St. Jude Medical Inc. and a $10 million Series B round led by St. Jude, with the participation of existing investors Mohr Davidow Ventures, Synergy Life Science Partners, and two additional undisclosed investors. The co-marketing agreement provides validation for the young company operating in a new field, and for its established big partner, a way to use a new diagnostic technology to assure more efficient use of its therapeutic equipment by the health care system.