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World Heart Corp is traded on the Nasdaq National Market (WHRT), and the
Toronto Stock Exchange (WHT). The web site is
worldheart.com. World Heart has commenced "in vivo" testing
of its HeartSaver Ventricular Assist Device (VAD). A VAD is an
artificial heart which can, without replacing the heart, either assist
or assume the heart's natural pumping function.
The current estimates for the global patient pool for this type of
device are about 70,000 per year. At an average $50,000 U.S. cost per
VAD, this translates into a $3.5 billion per year market. Current
treatments for heart failure are primarily medication and heart
transplantation. Medication can provide symptomatic relief for some
patients but often have side effects, and the supply of hearts for
transplants is limited to about 3,000.
The HeartSaver appears to be the technical leader in all respects, since
it is capable of being remotely powered (no wires perforating the skin),
monitored and controlled, and totally implantable in the chest cavity.
It uses a patented transcutaneous energy transfer (TET) system and a
biotelemetry data transfer system which allows the VAD to be remotely
controlled and monitored. There appears to be only two other
competitors, both of whom are already in clinical trials: Thermo
Cardiosystems and Novacor Division of Baxter Healthcare Corp. Both of
their VADs are heavier and are designed to be implanted in the abdomen,
and have either power leads and/or venting tubes which perforate the
patients' exterior protective skin tissue (consequently, they are not
totally implantable). The market cap for Thermo is currently a
staggering $1.025 Billion U.S., while the market cap for World Heart
Corp is approximately $50 million.
The major shareholders of World Heart include its CEO, Rod Bryden
(founder of SHL Systemhouse and Paperboard Industries), Michael
Cowpland, President and CEO of Corel Corp, Dr. Tofy Mussivand, the
HeartSavers principal inventor, and the Ottawa Heart Institute Research
Corporation, where the HeartSaver was developed. The Director of the
Ottawa Heart Institute is Dr. Wilbert Keon, one of the world's leading
This is not a microcap "basement operation" by any stretch. The project
has already received $18 million U.S. in government funding, with
another $4 million already approved. Sixteen R&D personnel are working
on the HeartSaver full time. Rod Bryden's two companies which he started
from scratch were worth $1.0 billion U.S. in 1991 when he stepped down
as CEO and became chairman of SC Stormont Company, a financial advisory
company. Says Bryden, "I have never seen a product with the competitive
advantage HeartSaver has. This is by far the best commercial opportunity
I've ever been presented with. Bar none."
Commencement of full clinical trials for the HeartSaver VAD is expected
in 1999, and full scale commercial production in 2001.
World Heart went public in December, 1996. I think this baby has only
one way to go - way uuupppp!
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