Carmat's (so far) successful human artificial heart transplant shoots stock higher

Carmat said that surgeons at a Paris hospital performed an initial implant of its artificial heart into a human patient, and he's doing well so far. Investors responded by gifting the French cardiac device company with a pre-Christmas stock surge.

Bloomberg reported that Carmat's stock surged 27% to nearly $178.80 in early morning trading in Paris, erasing a drop of about 19% over the past year. That's also its biggest intraday gain in three months, according to the story.

Investors are hopeful because the initial implant into a male patient at Georges Pompidou hospital in Paris on Dec. 18 has generated positive results in the initial few days. Two days after the surgery, he was talking with his family, the company noted. Reuters explained that the heart is designed to beat for up to 5 years as a long-term replacement that mimics how a natural heart behaves as much as possible. It is a mix of bovine and artificial materials.

Earlier this fall, Carmat gained French regulatory approval to perform human implants on four patients with terminal heart failure at three different French hospitals. Carmat also has additional approvals for human implants in Belgium, Poland, Slovenia and Saudi Arabia. CEO Marcello Conviti told Reuters in November that he hopes to complete human trials by the end of 2014 and envisions a European commercial launch by the end of 2015.

The 1.7-pound implant won't come cheap. Bloomberg noted that the device could cost more than $219,000. If Carmat succeeds, it will follow companies such as Abiomed ($ABMD), which launched an artificial heart, but is now more known for devices that help aide an ailing heart. There's also competition in the making, from companies such as SynCardia and Cleveland Heart, both of which are at various stages developing similar devices.

- read the Bloomberg story
- here's Reuters' take