J&J backs Israeli startup in $28M round for heart failure implant

V-Wave's shunt for heart failure--Courtesy of V-Wave

Israeli startup V-Wave raked in $28 million in Series B financing for its implantable device for heart failure (HF), funds that will help the company as it ramps up marketing for the product and eyes key regulatory approvals to help it gain market share.

New investors such as Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) JJDC venture capital arm, TriVentures, Pura Vida Investments and BioStar Ventures contributed funding, and existing investors including BRM Group, Pontifax and Edwards Lifesciences ($EW) also chipped in cash. The Caesarea, Israel-based company will use the funds to hire more senior management and to scale up clinical development and manufacturing for its shunt for chronic symptomatic HF. The device, which contains a valve made from porcine tissue, directs excess blood away from the left ventricle, or the heart's main pump, to regulate pressure and prevent blood clots in patients.

Elevated left atrial pressure is responsible for worsening symptoms and hospitalization in more than 90% of individuals with HF, V-Wave said in a statement, and the company's shunt could help improve quality of life for patients. So far, more than 30 individuals have been successfully treated with the device, which is inserted through the veins and sits in the atrial septum.

Now the company is "building a team with the potential to make V-Wave's unidirectional shunt achieve the data and milestones needed for regulatory approvals and commercialization in the U.S. and around the world," V-Wave CEO Neal Eigler said in a statement. V-Wave's device would enter the market at a critical moment, as the number of patients with HF will double in the next two decades due to an aging Baby Boomer population, the company said.

"With the backing of our new and prior investors, we can now accelerate development and clinical evaluation of a new therapy applicable for a large segment of HF patients who need additional treatment options," Eigler said in a statement.

The financing comes in the wake of another investment from J&J in an Israeli med tech startup. JJDC recently co-led a $15 million round for CartiHeal, which is developing a cell-free, tissue-regenerating implant for procedures involving the knee, ankle and big toe. CartiHeal plans to use the cash to dial up manufacturing before launching the product in Europe in 2017.

- read the statement