Nanostim reports early human success with leadless pacer

Nanostim says its tiny wireless cardiac pacemaker has shown some success in its first three human patients, early signs that the potentially disruptive technology has legs. And the company's advance, presented this week at the Heart Rhythm Society meeting in Denver, may give it the lead over larger medical device rivals trying to come up with something similar.

As Bloomberg reports, St. Jude Medical ($STJ) is likely watching Nanostim's progress very closely, having become an investor in the California startup in 2011. St. Jude has an option to buy the company and is expected to seal the deal by the end of 2013, with plans to sell the AAA-battery-sized pacemaker in Europe. U.S. patient trials should begin within the next year, according to the article.

Nanostim bills the device as the first leadless cardiac pacemaker. To implant it, surgeons would use a catheter by way of the femoral artery into the heart, eliminating the need for surgical pockets required for existing pacemakers. While cardiac rhythm device sales have slumped in recent years, a tiny wireless cardiac pacemaker would be a game changer. More than 700,000 patients globally face pacemaker implants annually, the article notes. And patients with pacemakers are often limited in their activity, because too much athletic movement makes pacemaker leads vulnerable to stress, the story explains.

Rivals Medtronic ($MDT) and Boston Scientific ($BSX) are among companies developing wireless pacemakers, but Nanostim's advance may have placed it in the lead, the story explains. Nanostim's last big milestone came to light in December 2012, when the company disclosed it successfully implanted the leadless device into 11 patients at a hospital in the Czech Republic.

Nanostim's investors include InterWest Partners, U.S. Venture Partners, Emergent Medical Partners and Life Science Angels.

- read the Bloomberg story

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