Sofinnova leads ex-CoreValve team to $14M round for TMVR R&D

Sofinnova Partners has led a $14.3 million investment in HighLife. The round reunites Sofinnova with Georg Börtlein, one of the executives it worked with to drive CoreValve to a $700 million buyout from Medtronic in 2009.

Börtlein created HighLife the year after Medtronic swooped in for CoreValve, a medical device firm he cofounded and served as COO. With HighLife, Börtlein has turned his attention to transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR), a procedure to stop blood flowing back toward the lungs and keep oxygenated blood moving around the body. 

Some patients undergo open-heart surgery to fix the valve failures that cause the blood flow problems. But the procedure is deemed to be too risky for some patients, resulting in a population of people with mitral valve insufficiency who are poorly served by existing options.

HighLife has designed a device to address these patients’ needs. The technology consists of two parts. The first component is a ring-shaped sub-annular implant. Once this is delivered to the site of the valve, a bioprosthesis is ferried up the femoral vein to the ring. The valve prosthesis uses the ring to align itself.

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Paris-based HighLife activated three trial sites in its home country to test the device last month. The $14.3 million investment will equip HighLife to step up its clinical development plans.

“This investment enables us to implement our aggressive development plan and move forward with both our ongoing clinical programs and our R&D pipeline. We are currently recruiting patients in several European countries including France and Germany and are now planning to accelerate the enrollment of this initial clinical phase,” Börtlein said in a statement.

Sofinnova was joined in the round by Börtlein and LivaNova, the device company that played a key role in its earlier rounds. Sorin, now part of LivaNova, invested about $5 million in HighLife in 2012 in a deal that gave it the option to acquire the startup. HighLife has received further investment and loans from the company in the intervening years.