UPDATED: VC giant NEA backs Topera in $25M Series C

Topera, whose technology helps pinpoint atrial fibrillation and other cardiac conditions, first disclosed its $25 million Series C financing in a regulatory filing in March. But now it's revealing the investors behind the deal, and the lead one is a big fish indeed--New Enterprise Associates.

Menlo Park, CA-based NEA was the top biotech venture capital firm in 2012, and it rolled out a $2.6 billion fund last fall, a stunning number in an era when the number of VCs, and the fund size of those that remain, has steadily shrunk. And about a third of the total fund is slated for healthcare-related biopharma investments, general partner David Mott told FierceBiotech at the time.

NEA led the round with existing investors and an as-yet-unnamed "strategic industry partner."

"It's a pretty big deal," CEO Edward Kerslake told FierceMedicalDevices. "Atrial fibrillation is the biggest nut of all that the med tech companies have wanted to crack."

They've picked a California company devoted to a hot space. Med tech operations including Medtronic ($MDT), St. Jude Medical ($STJ), Boston Scientific ($BSX) and nContact are developing or selling devices designed to treat atrial fibrillation, in which heartbeat becomes rapid and irregular and leads to health problems and an enormous stroke risk. Specifically, however, Topera's technology is designed to use next-generation 3D analysis and mapping to detect the source of atrial fibrillation, as well as atrial flutter, and atrial and ventricular tachycardia. It includes a catheter that gathers information from the heart and an imaging station that processes the results. The goal, Kerslake explains, is to help electrophysiologists better understand the disease and its points of origin, and then guide the resulting therapy, whether it is the commonly used ablation, freezing or other option.

Kerslake explains that the technology is a big advance over the current standard of care, which relies on an "anatomic approach" and a series of tests that give a more limited picture.

"It has improved delivery of therapy with a near doubling of outcomes," he told us.

Topera wants to launch its signature technology this year both in the U.S. and Europe, but not every component is approved yet. A new, quicker version of the company's RhythmView workstation just received FDA 510(k) clearance. But its FIRMap diagnostic catheter awaits that clearance. Both pieces are also awaiting CE markings overseas.

Meanwhile, NEA partner Justin Klein, who joined Topera's board of directors, said in a statement that it sees Topera as changing the game for AF diagnosis and treatment, in part, because its technology, by improving outcomes, could help reduce healthcare costs.

- read the release

Special Report: New Enterprise Associates - The Top 15 Biotech VC Firms

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comments from Topera CEO  Edward Kerslake, and a more detailed technology description.

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