Endosense: Facing Technology and Financing Challenges in AF
Endosense is beginning to establish itself in the tough market of atrial fibrillation with a catheter that stresses an attribute that no one has featured yet: force sensing in delivering energy. Proving the clinical value of force-sensing will be difficult enough, but Endosense faced an even greater challenge in 2009 when its long-time backer, 3i, decided it wanted to exit device venture investing and divest its stake in the company.
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St. Jude Medical has acquired Swiss company Endosense, a pioneer in the field of contact force sensing for atrial fibrillation ablation. The $170 million plus milestones deal will enable St. Jude to compete more effectively against market leader Biosense Webster/J&J, but it also emphasizes the growing importance of contact force technology in the AF ablation space.
Presenters at a day-long AF Symposium held just prior to this year's Heart Rhythm Society meeting lamented the disappointing long-term results with AF ablation and spoke about upcoming technological advances in catheters and adjunctive tools that may improve the procedure's efficacy and durability.
For a number of reasons, 2009 was a big year for the atrial fibrillation ablation market. Early in the year, Biosense Webster received FDA approval for its radiofrequency ablation catheter, the first such device to launch in the US with a specific AF indication. That approval was much more than just a landmark event for J&J; it changed the landscape of the AF industry, reinvigorating interest in the funding and development of new catheter-based technologies--a trend that has extended through to 2010 and will likely continue in the years ahead.