Four Big Cardiovascular Trends to Watch at this Week’s Medical Device Gathering—TCT 2010

Xconomy San Francisco — 

Take a fast-food loving culture, mix in a sedentary lifestyle, and, not surprisingly, you get a lot of heart disease in the U.S.

The trend doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon, as the Baby Boomers get older, and an estimated 18 million U.S. adults are living with some form of cardiovascular disease. So if you’re a medical device entrepreneur, it generally means there’s a lot of demand if you invent something great that treats cardiovascular conditions and you can get it past regulators. And the place to be to spot many things new and innovative for the treatment of heart disease is the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics conference, which runs from Sept. 21 to 25 in Washington DC.

This is a huge confab, expected to draw more than 12,000 cardiologists, medical device entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and sales and marketing reps for all the major med device makers, including many from the San Francisco Bay Area. Take a glance at the sponsor list, and you’ll see who has a stake here—Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT), AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN), Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX), Johnson & Johnson’s Cordis unit (NYSE: JNJ), Edwards LifeSciences (NYSE: EW), Medtronic (NYSE: MDT), and The Medicines Company (NASDAQ: MDCO).

The companies market products aimed at addressing at least part of the problem with heart disease. An estimated 6.5 million diagnostic and therapeutic interventional cardiology procedures were performed in the U.S. in 2008, which added up to a $4.7 billion market for corresponding products, according to Huntington Beach, CA-based market research firm LSI.

I won’t be on site this year, so I sought out the view of an expert observer will be there, Steve Salmon of San Francisco-based Latterell Venture Partners. Here are four big trends Salmon says will be watched at this year’s TCT conference.

Steve Salmon

Steve Salmon

Percutaneous valve replacement. This is a hot field in which interventional cardiologists seek to thread a catheter through the femoral artery of the leg, up into the chest to repair the heart’s aortic valve without cracking open the chest and doing surgery. Medtronic agreed to pay $700 million upfront, plus milestones, in February 2009 to acquire Irvine, CA-based CoreValve to get its technology in this field, in which Edwards is also a significant player. The technology is attractive because it’s a new market, in which elderly people generally considered too frail for heart surgery can become candidates for a minimally invasive valve repair procedure.

Santa Rosa, CA-based Direct Flow Medical and Los Gatos, CA-based Sadra Medical are a couple of interesting Bay Area companies focused on percutaneous aortic valve repair that will be closely watched at the TCT conference, Salmon says. There are other “skunk works” ideas out there, but new technologies still face a lot of science and technical risk, as well as risk of being turned down by regulators. These companies are seeking to repair beating hearts, with squishy tissue, in frail patients, without causing more harm than good. Many companies also have to follow the expensive and arduous pathway through FDA known as … Next Page »

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