“BioEnterprise facilitated our early-stage growth, providing us with market data, supporting us in the search for capital, and introducing us to experts in reimbursement.”
Charu Ramanathan, Ph.D., and Ping Jia, Ph.D., commercialized a unique, non-invasive advanced cardiac mapping technology to map electrical disorders of the heart. Their product received FDA approval in 2014 and their company, CardioInsight, was acquired by Medtronic for $93 million in 2015.
BioEnterprise: How and when did you launch CardioInsight?
Charu: We founded the company in 2006. Ping and I were graduate researchers in biomedical engineering at Dr. Yoram Rudy’s lab at Case Western Reserve University. The technology we were researching could be applied to patients, and the excitement and promise it held for physicians was pretty stimulating. This encouraged us to start CardioInsight to develop this promising technology into a clinical product.
Ping: From our computer simulations, animal study validation, and human clinical cases, we saw that the technology had numerous potential applications.
Charu: Essentially, it started as a technology that was a bunch of lines of code, a mathematical algorithm that we had to take from that state, make more suitable for hospital workflow and then produce output and imagery that would be suitable for interpretation by a physician.
BioEnterprise: What was your first key milestone?
Charu: When our start-up plans were endorsed and validated by Gil Van Bokkelen, CEO and Founder of Athersys, who was a really good friend and influencer.
Ping: Gil was really encouraging. In order to have our technology go over the globe, we realized that the only avenue was commercialization, although at the time we were not aware of the power and breadth of commercialization.
BioEnterprise: What is unique about the technology?
Charu: CardioInsight’s ECVUE™ system is the first of its kind — a non-invasive way to see how the heart is doing electrically. Our system can pinpoint the source of rhythm issues with the heart, so the physician can analyze the information to plan a treatment strategy. As a noninvasive technology it certainly has the potential to provide mapping information earlier in the care continuum.
Ping: Although its original application was in Atrial Fibrillation, our technology may be of value any time electrical wiring of the heart is affected.
Charu: With the help of Medtronic, we want to take the non-invasive feature of it and really broaden it and address problems with value-based solutions across the patient-care continuum. We don’t need to be in a costly sterile lab; we can provide this information anywhere you want. Ultimately that is our vision.
BioEnterprise: You initially licensed the technology from academia. What have you learned about this kind of tech transfer?
Charu: You see a lot of presentations from top-notch academic researchers that talk about a wonderful technology that can really do great things, but implicitly it’s not clear to a clinician ‘how I can get my hands on that technology and actually deliver it to my patients,’ and we do think that’s a huge gap.
Ping: And for entrepreneurs like us that’s exactly the gap we fill – we really took a technology that had a lot of clinical potential and built it in such a way that we could hand it to a clinician.
Charu: Early on we attracted a partnership with one of the world’s top physicians and thought leaders in our field, Dr. Michel Haissaguerre, at Hôpital Cardiologique du Haut–Lévèque in Bordeaux, France. He was able to clinically validate the product and also play a pivotal role in its scientific and clinical development.
Ping: He was able to persuade his colleagues throughout the world that this type of non-invasive diagnostic technology is really the future of the field.
Charu: It was the most organic ‘marketing’ from someone who was actually using the technology. And that collaboration led to other collaborations and validation to attract other investment dollars and top team talent – and get us to where we are today.