VCR ventracor limited

vcr todays afr

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    There is an article in todays AFR that is very positive. It reads: Artificial heart company Ventracor expects to begin clinical trials in the US and Europe by early next year, after the first of its VentrAssist devices was implanted in an Australian patient last month.

    The successful trial is part of a planned test on 10 patients with congestive heart disease, which kills 50 Australians every week, Ventracor chief executive Michael Spooner said yesterday.

    "Our objective is to start international clinical trials late this year or early next year," Mr Spooner said.

    "We will look to achieve regulatory approval for Europe late next year."

    The company's shares have tripled over the past year as it came closer to commercialising its invention, which uses patented technology to turn the sole moving part, a propeller-like device which pushes blood when a patient's heart is too weak to pump.



    VentrAssist is a left ventricular assist device, designed to provide an alternative to heart transplants, even allowing a patient's weakened heart to heal enough in some cases that the pump could be removed.

    Ventracor was one of four companies developing similar third-generation artificial hearts.

    The rival which was furthest along the path to commercial sales, German company Berlin Heart, received European regulatory approval after eight months, and trials on 26 patients, Mr Spooner said.

    He said there was room for several companies to sell artificial hearts with about a million people dying every year from congestive heart failure, and just 3500 receiving heart transplants.

    "The market's huge," Mr Spooner said. "Their device is very different to ours."

    The other two companies, Arrow International, developer of the LionHeart, and Thoratec, were a year or two behind Ventracor and Berlin, he said.

    Ventracor shares rose 2¢ yesterday to $1.48, valuing the company at $240 million. It traded at less than 50¢ last July.

    The stock surged this month after the company on June 28 successfully implanted its device in the first human patient, at Melbourne's Alfred Hospital.

    "The patient is still alive and doing well," Mr Spooner said yesterday. "We are delighted with the performance of the device."

    The VentrAssist was likely to sell for about $25,000, compared with $US50,000 ($76,670) to $US100,000 for the first-generation artificial hearts currently in common use.

    Over the next 12 months, Ventracor would devote more effort to exploring other applications for its technology.

    "It is essentially a very clever blood pump that offers a range of other applications," he said.

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