Nano-polymer therapy developed to reverse heart damage

By Max Schindler

In the US alone, nearly 1 million heart failure cases are diagnosed annually, and Israel faces thousands of hospitalizations annually over the issue.

Start-up Magenta Medical – which invented a medical device to treat acute heart failure – just secured $15 million from venture capital investors, in the latest sign that Israeli bio-technology firms are attracting growing international investment.

Magenta helped invent a temporary trans-catheter heart therapy and the company announced on Thursday that it had acquired the funds in series B financing – its midstage fund-raising round.

“This is an epidemic, a tragedy. You usually know of a family member who suffers from congestive heart failure, or chronic heart failure,” said a Magenta executive.  “We are treating the acute episodes, the patients who experiences a heart attack every few weeks or every few months.”

Trans-catheter therapy is when a doctor treats a narrowed aortic heart valve – one that fails to open properly and is restricting blood flow – by wedging a 24-hour replacement valve into the vein. The valve-within-a-valve provides circulatory support and reduces strain on the heart by improving blood flow.

Much of acute heart failure is caused by fluids and salts that are not cleansed out of the lungs and hearts. Many diuretics – which try to help the kidney in its cleansing role by producing more urine – do not help. Magenta’s catheter device reduces fluid congestion through quicker and more efficient fluid and salt removal, while at the same time trying to protect the kidney. It is also non-pharmacological, and less invasive than surgery.

Heart failure is becoming more common in the Western world due to dietary and environmental factors. In the US alone, nearly 1 million cases are diagnosed annually, and Israel faces thousands of hospitalizations annually over the issue. With millions affected, treating and managing the heart has enormous potential to reduce lost work time and early mortality.

Magenta has conducted clinical trials in Europe with eight patients and it soon plans to expand to the United States. Despite much of the innovative technology being produced in Israel, it is unclear when the device will be available locally.

Ehud Schwammenthal and Yosi Tuval founded the company in 2012. They also founded Ventor Technologies, another company in the Pitango Venture Capital investment portfolio. Schwammenthal’s previous device changed cardiac surgery by reducing the need for life-threatening, openheart operations. Ventor was acquired in 2009 for $325m. by Medtronic – an American biotech giant that operates much of its research and development in Israel.

Magenta is based in Kadima, southeast of Netanya, and employs fewer than 20 employees, the CEO said, with plans to continue growing its research team locally.

“Israel is recognized for its leadership in medical devices. And if you look at the statistics, cardiovascular devices are the largest group of innovations within that category,” a Magenta executive said.

Magenta’s investors include Pitango Venture Capital – one of Israel’s largest venture capital firms, Japan’s JAFCO Co., Massachusetts- based Abiomed Inc. and angel investors led by Dr. Jacques Sequin.

Pitango has invested in some 250 companies to date, with many of them undergoing a successful “exit” for the founders and going public with an IPO on New York’s NASDAQ stock exchange.