News | July 12, 2011

New Heart Valve Technology Offers Interchangeable Replacement Leaflets

July 12, 2011 – A heart valve developer that was spun-off out of Cleveland Clinic to create a lifetime heart valve replacement technology platform featuring exchangeable bioprosthetic leaflets has received $3.5 million in equity investment from CryoLife Inc.

Under the agreement, CryoLife will receive an approximate 19 percent initial equity ownership in ValveXchange; the right of first refusal to acquire ValveXchange during a period that extends through the completion of initial commercialization milestones. The agreement also reserves the right to negotiate with ValveXchange for European distribution rights. Further, CryoLife will make available up to $2 million to ValveXchange in additional debt financing through a revolving credit facility.

"We believe that the ValveXchange technology is an extremely compelling next generation heart valve approach," said Steven G. Anderson, chairman, president and CEO of CryoLife. "Its unique replaceable bioprosthetic leaflet design has the potential to eliminate repeat open-heart surgeries from the long-term wear complications associated with current biological valves. We believe that the system may resolve the long-standing compromises between conventional mechanical and biological heart valves, potentially making this platform applicable to patients of all ages."

"We are truly excited to have CryoLife as an investor in our company, said Larry Blankenship, chairman and CEO of ValveXchange. "We believe this investment will enable us to bring our innovative heart valve technology to market. Our animal study data demonstrated very encouraging results, with valve leaflet exchanges and second exchanges going smoothly. This funding will support first-in-man procedures of our Vitality Exchangeable Heart Valve System, anticipated to occur later this year, followed by a planned European clinical trial."

The Vitality Exchangeable Heart Valve System combines the safety and longevity associated with the most commonly used surgical bioprosthetic valves with the ability to provide minimally invasive access for transapical valve exchange. Vitality is a two-part valve platform for patients of all ages that can potentially overcome the challenges of long-term leaflet wear and the requirement for repeat invasive valve replacement surgery. The healed-in support frame of the valve remains in the heart, while the worn-out leaflet set is designed to be quickly exchanged without open-heart surgery or cardiopulmonary bypass. The new leaflet set then provides the same years of service life as the original with no reduction in valve function.

ValveXchange's second generation system, the Vanguard, is designed to allow both the implantation and valve exchange procedures to be done transapically, through a small incision between the ribs and a small hole in the apex of the heart, both of which heal readily. With ValveXchange technology, off-pump MIS techniques can be applied to both the initial implant and subsequent exchanges later in life.

For more information: www.cryolife.com

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