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(Australian Associated Press)
A tiny life-saving gadget has been almost 20 years in the making.
The ultrasonically-activated implant, the Wireless Stimulation Endocardially (WiSE) device, is the size of a grain of rice and sits inside the left ventricle of the heart to help it pump enough blood.
The developer of the world’s first wireless cardiac pacing system, EBR Systems, will list on the ASX at 11am on Wednesday.
The device will “complement” the traditional pacemaker, not replace it, president and chief executive John McCutcheon told AAP from Silicon Valley.
With the technology already approved in Europe, Mr McCutcheon said the ASX listing will help to fund the completion of regulatory approval in Australia and the United States by 2023.
“It can improve the lives of heart failure patients in Australia and around the world,” he said.
Heart disease is Australia’s leading single cause of death, and cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally.
Chris Nave, founding partner of Brandon Capital and an early backer of EBR, told AAP the ASX listing was the logical step for the largely Australian-owned and developed technology.
But he’s not ruling out a future listing on the US Nasdaq.
“This is a really big unmet need,” Dr Nave said.
“It is a product that changes patients’ lives and is pretty stunning in how clever it is.”
Australia is a leader in clinical cardiology research and was a pioneer in pacemaker technology last century.
EBR partnered with leading Australian physicians for clinical trials at Royal Adelaide, Monash Medical Centre, and Prince of Wales, with the first Australian WiSE patient treated in February 2018.
Dr Nave, a former director at the Alfred’s Baker Heart Institute, said there are many complications with the wires currently used, but cardiologists have had no other alternative until now.
“It’s quite striking to see a patient go in looking grey and really pale and unwell and coming out of surgery with this device and the heart is pumping again and they’ve got pink-coloured skin,” he said.
The technology is initially targeted at patients who cannot receive existing devices, or are at high risk for replacement surgery – a market estimated by EBR at US$2.1 billion ($A2.9 billion). The company then expects to expand into other patient groups.
Health sector stocks now account for about 10 per cent of the Australian share market, as big funds increasingly look for carbon neutral and socially responsible investments.
Super funds Hostplus, TelstraSuper and HESTA, along with Brandon Capital and alternative asset manager M.H. Carnegie & Co, contributed more than A$30 million of the $110 million share offer.
“The large participation by Australian superannuation funds does speak to interest in this sector and innovation economies,” Dr Nave said.