This article was originally published in Start Up
While no medical device start-up operates in a risk-free zone, CyberHeart is minimizing its risk by using core technology that is already proven in another therapeutic area, cancer. The start-up has licensed cardiac tissue ablation rights to Accuray Inc.'s CyberKnife robotic radiosurgery system, and intends to use it to develop a completely noninvasive approach for the large, unmet atrial fibrillation market.
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Despite a miserable economy, new company formation continues apace. In biotech, recapitalizations and structured deals featured prominently; in diagnostics, interest remains strong even if rounds in 2008 were down from last year's highs; in devices, small and regional VCs have filled the void left by brand-name investors.
The atrial fibrillation market has attracted the attention of a large number of established and emerging cardiovascular device companies over the past several years, all hoping to cash in on the huge demand for a simple, safe, and effective therapy that can permanently cure this common, and often debilitating, heart arrhythmia. Most of the research to date has focused on energy-based methods both surgical and percutaneous - to destroy aberrant electrical triggers in the heart that are believed to initiate and perpetuate AF. But no one has yet received FDA approval for a catheter-based ablation tool, a milestone that is widely recognized as key to full penetration of this market. To be sure, they have come close. But obtaining an FDA indication for the more complex AF ablation procedure has proven a much more difficult goal.
A preview of the emerging health care companies profiled in the current issue of Start-Up. This month's profile group, "The Eyes Still Have It," features profiles of Alacrity Biosciences, Eyeon Therapeutics, Mobius Therapeutics and OcuCure Therapeutics. Plus these Start-Ups Across Health Care: CyberHeart, GlycoVaxyn, TheraCardia and Vicus Therapeutics.