French devicemaker Carmat SAS readies artificial heart for human trial

Carmat SAS is ready to test its artificial heart in human patients.--Courtesy of Carmat

French medical device maker Carmat SAS is ready to begin testing its new artificial heart in human patients and awaits final regulatory OK to pull the trigger and get started.

But the clock is ticking. As Bloomberg reports, the company lost $22.3 million in 2012, a big jump over the $17.4 million loss Carmat generated in 2011. Also a point of concern: Carmat said it had just $14.4 million in cash left as of Dec. 31, 2012, enough to carry it through 2014.

Still, news that the company is close to human trials was enough to make investors happy. According to Bloomberg, the company's stock jumped over 8% to about $160.50 U.S. as of trading in Europe early Monday, representing a steady climb from the company's initial stock offering in 2010.

Bloomberg reports that Carmat must still provide additional data to French regulators before that first human implant can proceed. But all else is in place. CEO Marcello Conviti told the news agency that the company trained surgical teams who will do the job, and several healthcare centers are ready to proceed. Conviti didn't say exactly when but asserted that the company is "very close" to launching human trials in Europe, also noting to Bloomberg that Carmat "has the financial means to carry out multiple implants."

Carmat sees an artificial heart as helping to fill the void of the low number of organs available for transplant, according to the story. And there is a need, with 100,000 heart-failure patients waiting for a transplant even though fewer than 4,000 organs are available, the company explains on its website.

Carmat certainly wouldn't be the only company in this space. Abiomed ($ABMD), for example, has its AbioCor, the world's first completely self-contained artificial heart. But Abiomed has focused more heavily in recent years on its Impella heart pumps in order to build a more sustainable business model. Artificial-heart pioneer Dr. Robert Jarvik also continues to innovate in the space. Last May, Reuters reported that doctors successfully used an 11-gram titanium pump in a 16-month-old boy, as a bridge to transplant, after it was previously tested in animals.

- read the Bloomberg story