Events, Devices & Diagnostics, Startups

Pitch Perfect Winner Spotlight: CorInnova wants to change the way we treat failing hearts

Houston-based CorInnova won the medical device track for the Pitch Perfect contest at the MedCity INVEST conference in Chicago.

From left: MedCity News Editor in Chief Arundhati Parmar, CorInnova CEO William Altman, and MHIN President Dennis Depenbusch

Heart failure patients have few options for prolonging life and improving cardiac function.

Outside of a heart transplant, existing devices on the market are incredibly invasive and lead to side effects including elevated risk of stroke, blood damage and kidney problems.

Additionally, the high eligibility requirements for the procedure used to implant these pumps mean that many individuals suffering from heart failure are shut out from receiving these technologies.

Houston-based CorInnova is hoping its robotic biventricular cardiac-assist device can provide the life-saving function of existing technologies without some of the more harmful adverse effects.

“There’s never been a device that didn’t touch the blood, but yet could be effective at increasing output,” CorInnova CEO William Altman said in an interview.

CorInnova was one of a group of winners of the Pitch Perfect contest at the MedCity INVEST conference in Chicago in April, winning the medical device track.

Based off of technology developed at Texas A&M University’s Cardiac Mechanics Laboratory by Dr. John Criscione, CorInnova has raised $12 million from investors including the National Heart Lung Blood Institute, the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, the Wellcome Fund and the TMC Venture Fund.

The company’s device is inserted through a minimally invasive left thoracotomy that takes around 20 minutes to perform.

Sitting between the heart wall and the pericardial sac, the device is filled with a saline solution that helps it envelop the heart and has chambers that are inflated in a way to mimic the heart’s pumping. Early results in animal have shown a 50 percent increase in cardiac output using the device.

The bi-ventricular capabilities of the device mean that it can be used a variety of heart failure situations and the fact that it doesn’t touch the blood means decreased risk of adverse effects.

Altman said the company first hopes to be a complementary option for patients unable to use existing devices, a market size CorInnova estimates at more than $1.5 billion.

“We don’t even have to compete directly and we would have the basis for even a large public company,” Altman said.

The company’s business thesis is initially built around filling a gap in the market by providing a safer alternative for patients needing a cardiac-assist device for two to seven days.

Some potential use cases include patients who have short-term injury due to heart attack, mothers suffering from peripartum cardiomyopathy or as a bridge therapy that could help inform future procedures and clinical decision-making.

CoInnova is still in its early stages of clinical validation and has undertaken 20 large animal studies for the device. Moving forward the company is looking to perform longer-term studies to further test the effectiveness and safety of its technology.

Altman said the company is planning on having pre-submission meetings with FDA this year to receive breakthrough device status and do the legwork necessary to do its first in-human studies sometime in the next three years.

Ultimately, CorInnova’s hope is develop a technology for heart failure patients that could be used in both short-term and long-term situations.

“We think for the treatment of long term patients it could be really transformative,” Altman said. “Both my father and my father-in-law died from heart failure. Talking to my father-in-law, who was a cardiologist, he said a device like this would have changed the game for him.”

Picture: Getty Images