Edwards joins Middle Peak financing to gain stake in mitral device race

Days after Abbott ($ABT) won FDA approval for a mitral regurgitation treatment device, Edwards Lifesciences ($EW) has quietly entered the competition to develop a rival product by joining a venture financing for startup Middle Peak Medical.

Middle Peak Medical pulled in an additional $3 million on top of its over-subscribed Series A financing announced in June, which now surpasses $11 million including the latest cash infusion. Edwards is one of the Munich and Palo Alto-based company's new backers, along with BioMedInvest II, a fund from European venture capital giant BioMedPartner, Middle Peak said in its funding announcement. Wellington Partners and Seventure Partners led the add-on round, after having contributed to Middle Peak's initial $8.5 million Series A along with seed investor High-Tech Gründerfonds Management.

Edwards and the others have a stake in Middle Peak's ongoing effort to develop a device designed to treat mitral regurgitation, where a leaky heart valve lets blood flow backward, which can cause irregular heartbeats, stroke or heart failure. Typically, the condition has been treated with regular surgery.

Middle Peak said its technology will be available "as both a surgical implant and a percutaneous, transcatheter system," according to its website. CEO and co-founder Michael Lesh said in a statement that the new funding "affirms our novel approach to treating mitral valve disease," and that his company "intends to bring significant benefit to patients with mitral regurgitation, the most common valvular heart disease."

Abbott announced FDA approval on Oct. 25 for MitraClip, its device to treat mitral regurgitation that is delivered via catheter through the femoral vein in the leg. It helps plug the valve leak by clipping together parts of the mitral valve. MitraClip had approval for a while in Europe, but concerns about its safety and effectiveness delayed regulatory efforts in the U.S.

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