HONG KONG – A medical device company has partnered with a couple of investment firms to tap new technologies and help bring them back to China.

Venus Medtech (Hangzhou) Inc. formed a health care investment platform, Ascendum Capital Partners, to invest in new medical devices and technologies around the world, particularly in the cardiovascular and lung disease spaces.

Venus launched the new platform with private equity firm DCP Capital and venture capital firm Qiming Venture Partners. The aim of the platform will be to invest in companies and technologies that advance cardiovascular and lung disease treatment, as well as in innovative med-tech companies in China. Ascendum will be led by Serena Shao, a former health care research analyst at Credit Suisse.

“I am unaware of another fund that has more domain knowledge and expertise in the med-tech space,” Shao told BioWorld.

Venus Medtech, a specialist in transcatheter heart valve medical devices, has made several deals in recent years to expand its footprint in China. In May, the company partnered with Opus Medical Therapies LLC to develop and manufacture transcatheter mitral and tricuspid valve replacement products for patients with mitral and tricuspid valve disease in Greater China.

Earlier this month, Venus entered a partnership with Pi-Cardia Ltd., an Israeli startup that specializes in developing nonimplant catheter-based solutions to treat heart valve calcification. Venus wants to bring Pi-Cardia’s Leaflex technology to China.

Pi-Cardia's Leaflex catheter performs mechanical scoring of valve calcification, restoring the mobility of leaflets and improving valve hemodynamics. The catheter is designed as a standalone treatment for patients not planning to undergo transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).

The technology also can help defer TAVR in patients who may be too young for the procedure and act as a preparatory step for improving the outcome of TAVR in heavily calcified and bicuspid aortic valves.

In April, Pi-Cardia secured $27 million in capital through a financing round led by Sofinnova Partners after first-in-human studies helped demonstrate the safety and feasibility of Leaflex.

Venus Medtech will spearhead clinical trials, manufacturing and commercialization for Leaflex in China, and Pi-Cardia will continue clinical trials in the U.S. and Europe at the same time.

“The global aortic valve market is expected to reach $9 billion over the next few years, and we see a very steep growth in these procedures in China,” explained Venus co-founder and CEO Eric Zi.

A low-cost solution for patients with calcified aortic valves would be an important addition to Venus’ TAVR platform particularly because Chinese patients typically are required to pay out of pocket for such procedures.

Venus Medtech has a diversified IP portfolio with 193 issued patents and 196 patent applications. The collaboration with Pi-Cardia will bolster the company’s pipeline of aortic valve products and tap the growing Chinese market for nonimplant-based solutions.

This is the kind of deal that Venus’ new investment platform, Ascendum, will seek to pursue. By bringing innovative technologies to China, it could benefit from tapping into a health care industry that could be worth more than $1 trillion by the end of this year and a market for cardiovascular devices that was valued at $2.8 billion in 2018 and is set to grow to $4.5 billion by 2024, according to Mordor Intelligence.

“China’s health care and life science industries have already started their bloom and will secure a top three spot on the international stage along with the U.S. and India in the near future,” Houston Huang, head of global Investment banking for China at J.P. Morgan, told BioWorld. “China’s med-tech ceiling is reaching new heights with many companies producing first-in-class or best-in-class tech, which allows them to stand on an equal footing with international players. This is backed by a growing demand and increasing purchasing power.”

At the same time, a rising incidence of cardiovascular diseases and a growing elderly population are driving growth in the market. Increased vascular rigidity and decreased vascular compliance are often associated with aging. Older people have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disorders like peripheral arterial disease, aortic disease and venous thromboembolism.

The most common heart valve disease in China remains mitral regurgitation (MR), for which Leaflex will have a potential application. More than 13% of people in China over the age of 60 have MR, which translates into about 10 million patients in need of treatment.

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