Polares raises $25M to bring its 'hemi-replacement' mitral valve to the clinic

A stethoscope and paper money.
Polares’ prosthetic replaces the mitral valve's posterior leaflet to form a better seal with the native anterior leaflet, instead of replacing the entire valve. (Getty/utah778)

Symetis spinout Polares Medical unlocked $25 million in venture capital financing to continue development of its mitral valve repair/replacement system and enter clinical testing.

The Lausanne, Switzerland-based company’s device—a transcatheter, hemi-replacement system currently in the preclinical stages—aims to treat mitral regurgitation, caused by the leakage of blood backward through the valve with each contraction of the left ventricle.

Polares’ solution is based on replacing just the mitral posterior leaflet with a prosthetic, which is designed to form a better seal with the valve’s native anterior leaflet.

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“Hemi-replacement represents a new treatment paradigm for mitral regurgitation, between repair and total replacement,” said Nick Pliam, M.D., Ph.D., principal at Decheng Capital, which led the funding round. “We believe this approach has the potential to provide an effective addition to the armamentarium for the percutaneous treatment of MR,” said Pliam, who previously founded Guided Delivery Systems, developers of a minimally invasive treatment for mitral regurgitation.

RELATED: NEJM study finds mitral valve replacement is better than repair for functional regurgitation patients

Decheng was joined by an international group of investors, including Endeavour Vision, IDO Investments, Earlybird Venture Capital and Wellington Partners.

RELATED: Boston Scientific bags option on mitral regurgitation startup Millipede in $540M deal

Polares was created as a spinoff of Swiss heart valve manufacturer Symetis to develop the mitral technology it obtained through an acquisition of Middle Peak Medical. Polares was launched before Boston Scientific bought Symetis in 2017 for $435 million, acquiring its CE-marked transcatheter aortic valve implantation devices.

A 2015 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that mitral valve replacement, compared to repair, resulted in lower rates of heart failure and hospitalization for complications in the two years following surgery. At the time, Medtronic, Edwards and Abbott spent a combined $100 million in pursuit of the transcatheter mitral valve replacement market, hoping to recreate the success of similar, minimally invasive devices for aortic valve replacement.

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