Dr Boreham’s Crucible: Imricor Medical Systems

Small Caps | Oct 17 2022

Imricor is a player in a global catheter ablation market worth $US5.5 billion and growing at a compound rate of just over 8% a year.

By Tim Boreham

ASX code: ((IMR))

Share price: 27.5 cents

Market cap: $41.6 million

Shares on issue: 151,347,625 (Chess Depositary Interests, or CDIs)

Founder, chair and chief executive officer: Steve Wedan

Board: Mr Wedan (chair), Mark Tibbles (deputy chair), Anita Messal, Peter McGregor

Financials (June half 2022): customer revenue $US538,000 ($A857,400) (up 47%), net loss $9.77 million (previously a $9.96 million deficit), cash balance $US9.1 million* (down 41%),

(The company subsequently raised $2.92 million in a share placement in mid-September 2022.)

Identifiable major shareholders: Warren G Herreid 7.5%, Blackrock Group 8.2%, Siemens Medical Solutions 5.85%, Saville Capital 6.63%, Kahr Foundation 2.06%, Steve Wedan 1.76%

(Regal Funds Management held 5.8% but ceased to be a substantial shareholder in mid-June 2022.)

This column first appeared in Biotech Daily biotechdaily.com.au

The brightest innovations in medical science usually stem from a mix of serendipity, perspicacity and being in the right place at the right time.

In the case of American electrical engineer and Imricor founder Steve Wedan, a series of casual conversations convinced him of the need for heart procedure catheters that could be guided by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), rather than traditional x-ray fluoroscopy.

Mr Wedan was working for GE Medical Systems designing MRI scanners and ultrasounds and heard about unsuccessful attempts by the heart company majors to design MRI-compatible catheters.

He started his own consultancy which led him to the esteemed Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland, where doctors asked him for help with projects they had been struggling with, including MRI-friendly probes.

I did some due diligence to find out whether this was a tech in search of a medical application, or a real medical need that needed a technological solution, he says. I was convinced it was the latter.

At the heart of the problem (literally) is the poor success rates with cardiac ablation procedures. The heart is invisible to x-rays, without potentially toxic dyes, and by the 1990s doctors could see the limitations of x-ray guided ablations, notably the cumulative radiation exposure (given patients are living longer).

The MRI-guided procedure is called interventional cardiac magnetic resonance (ICMR) imaging.

We are not creating a new therapy, we are simply making the devices that are MRI compatible, Mr Wedan says.

In a flutter

Cardiac ablation addresses the common problem of heart arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat. This can be manifested in atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter, or Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome and other tachycardias (rapid heartbeat).

Atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter account for 39 percent and 23 percent of all ablation procedures, respectively.

Cardiac ablation uses heat or cold energy to create tiny scars in the heart to block irregular electric signals and restore normal heartbeat.

A catheter is popped up a vein and delivers the electric impulses to destroy the abnormal tissue.

The process is carried out by electro-physiologists (specially trained cardiologists).

Theres a really big need in interventional cardiology, electrophysiology and ablation for better visualization to specialize treatment for each patient, Mr Wedan says.

This will give the doctors a procedural endpoint so they can verify the therapy [and ensure] the patient will go home with a first-time success rate.

Getting started

Mr Wedan founded Imricor in 2006, with an initial focus on ablation of ventricular tachycardia (or VT, more on that below).

The company is based in Burnsville, Minnesota, where it has its manufacturing and carries out research and development.

Imricor listed on the ASX on August 30, 2019, having raised $13 million at 83 cents apiece.

In 2011, the first human ICMR procedure was carried out at Germanys Leipzig Heart Centre.

In 2012, Imricor licenced its technology to Dutch tech giant Koninklijke Philips, and in 2018, the company inked its first contract with the Dresden Heart Centre.

Mr Weden is Imricors founder, chair, president and CEO, which means the buck stops very much with him.

Imricor, by the way, is listed on the ASX because the company latched on to a US roadshow pitching the bourse as an alternative to venture capital.

The ASX was a perfect niche for a stage of the company we were at, Mr Wedan says.

Ablation proliferation

Imricors mainstay product is its Vision-MR Ablation Catheter, which is designed to look, feel and function like a traditional ablation catheter.

The European Union approved the device for atrial flutter in 2020, while also green-lighting the Vision-MR Dispersive Electrode. This gizmo minimizes eddy currents induced on the devices conductive pads during MRI scanning.

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