Carmat jumps on more good news for its artificial heart

One week after France's Carmat announced that the first patient treated in a trial of its artificial heart was doing well, hospital officials report that the patient's condition is still "very satisfactory," according to Reuters. The 75-year-old man, who received the device Dec. 18, is eating normally and socializing with his family, according to Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris, where he is recovering.

Carmat's stock, which rose 27% to nearly $178.80 on the Paris exchange on Dec. 23, gained an additional 4% on twice its recent average daily trading volume on the news, Reuters reports.

Carmat's artificial heart is made partially with bovine tissue, which the company believes will help avoid clotting issues that have plagued artificial hearts in the past. It is designed to last for 5 years, unlike currently marketed artificial hearts, which are primarily used for short periods--generally as a bridge to a total heart transplant. Carmat's device is powered by batteries that patients wear externally. If the product is approved, it could expand the market for artificial hearts from 4,000 to 125,000 patients a year, Carmat predicts on its website.

The company expects to treat three additional patients in France as part of a clinical trial scheduled to finish by the end of this year. CEO Marcello Conviti has said he envisions launching the artificial heart in Europe next year.

If all goes well, the company will try for a U.S. approval of its artificial heart. Conviti previously told Reuters he expects to seek partners for a U.S. launch and has been in contact with Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), Medtronic ($MDT), St. Jude Medical ($STJ) and Edwards Lifesciences ($EW).

Carmat has plenty of competition in the race to develop a better artificial heart. Startup Cleveland Heart is developing a similar device, as is Arizona's SynCardia, which raised $19 million last March to help fund the development of its next-generation artificial heart.

- here's the Reuters story

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