CVRx raises $29.6M for hypertension device

CVRx raised $29.6 million to develop its Barostim neo device.--Courtesy of CVRx

CVRx has hauled in $29.6 million in its latest funding round, cash that will help the Minnesota devicemaker get its nerve-stimulating treatment for hypertension and heart failure through clinical trials.

Big-namers New Enterprise Associates and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) Development Corporation co-led the round, pitching in to help CVRx fund two pivotal studies for its Barostim neo device. The latest raise follows an $84 million haul in 2008, and the company has picked up about $240 million since its 2001 founding.

Barostim neo is designed to improve blood flow through pulses of energy to the body's baroreceptors, which regulate cardiovascular function. The device is CE marked to treat hypertension overseas, and the company has received the FDA's blessing for two U.S. studies testing its ability to reduce blood pressure and treat heart failure. CVRx kicked off both studies in April, planning to enroll 310 U.S. patients in its hypertension trial and 60 in the heart failure study.

If the hypertension study is successful, CVRx could be poised to challenge renal denervation technologies from Medtronic ($MDT), St. Jude Medical ($STJ) and Boston Scientific ($BSX), all of which are angling to get their devices approved by the FDA.

Over three years, Rheos, Barostim neo's predecessor, was able to lower blood pressure by an average of 31 mmHg in patients with uncontrolled hypertension, and if CVRx can duplicate or best those results, it'll be in the same efficacy ballpark as the much-hyped Symplicity, EnligHTN and V2.

And that's where J&J's interest becomes noteworthy. The life sciences giant has struggled with its medical device unit of late. J&J posted 10.2% sales growth in its med tech business last quarter, but, removing the huge weight of its multi-billion-dollar Synthes buyout, the company is staring down flattening sales in devices and diagnostics. With renal denervation predicted to generate nearly $4 billion a year within the decade, buying into hypertension through CVRx could give J&J a seat at the fast-crowding blood pressure market and a banner device for the future.

- read the announcement

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