A heart-saving medical device the size of a grain of rice was just backed by a $60 million investment led by two Australian VC firms

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A new medical tech device the size of “a large grain of rice” that keeps heart failure patients alive has completed a $60 million capital raising round led by two Australian investment firms.

Conventional CRT devices require wires to transmit pulses to the heart, but this means it cannot get inside the left ventricle due to the risk of clots that that can cause heart attacks and strokes. Californian medical technology startup EBR Systems claims its small WiSE-CRT implanted device gets those signals inside the left ventricle without wires.

Sydney venture capital firms Brandon Capital and MH Carnegie & Co led the capital raising round.

“I’m convinced that wireless pacing represents the future of cardiac pacing and that EBR Systems is at the forefront of this technological advancement,” said MH Carnegie & Co partner Trevor Moody.

“As a former pacemaker engineer and long-time medical device investor, I am excited to back EBR Systems and its WiSE Technology for wireless endocardial stimulation.”

The new money will be used to perform a 350-patient clinical trial for the WiSE-CRT device in Australia, US and Europe. The trial results are hoped to lead to an approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, which is a mandatory hurdle before commercialisation in that country.

EBR Systems’ device. (Source: supplied)

Brandon Capital managing director Dr Chris Nave, who is also the chief executive of the company’s Medical Research Commercialisation Funds (MRCF), said the difference in quality of life for heart failure patients that have had successful CRT treatment and those that have not are “like night and day”.

“Those that don’t respond to treatment can be so short of breath that they have difficulty completing even the most simple of daily tasks. Given the highly encouraging clinical data the company has generated to date across a range of patient studies, including those patients that have previously failed to respond to conventional, wire-based CRT therapy, we believe EBR’s WiSE CRT system offers real hope to these patients.”

Australia will provide 100 patients to the clinical trial, which will be conducted in 10 hospitals around the country. Six of those hospitals are research members of the MRCF, which Brandon’s contribution came from.

Professor of Cardiology at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Dr Prash Sanders, will lead the trial in Australia, and will also sit on the steering committee for the global program.

Dr Nave said that Australia’s participation is a testimony to the nation’s reputation in medical research.

“Australia is extremely attractive for clinical trials because of its excellent research infrastructure, top-tier hospitals and leading clinicians,” he said.

“Government initiatives such as the R&D Tax Rebate, add significantly to Australia’s attractiveness as a destination for developing products like the WiSE Technology; creating jobs, growing our local industry and ultimately improving patients’ lives.”

Brandon Capital’s MRCF has $480 million under management and is claimed to be the largest “life science investment fund” in Australia and New Zealand. The fund has involvement from superannuation funds, Australia and New Zealand governments, state governments and more than 50 medical organisations.

MH Carnegie & Co is a private equity and venture capital firm based in Paddington in eastern Sydney, with more than $500 million under management to focus on “medical device opportunities”.