Medical GPS developer MediGuide acquired by St. Jude Medical

MediGuide’s technology increases the accuracy and information available during certain minimally invasive procedures, while reducing radiation exposure for both the patient and medical staff.After a prolonged silent period, Israeli medical device developer MediGuide last week announced that it has been …

MediGuide’s technology increases the accuracy and information available during certain minimally invasive procedures, while reducing radiation exposure for both the patient and medical staff.After a prolonged silent period, Israeli medical device developer MediGuide last week announced that it has been acquired by US company St. Jude Medical for $283 million.

MediGuide has developed a sophisticated navigation system, the Medical Positioning System (gMPS), which uses proprietary technology for real-time tracking of sub-millimeter sized sensors.

These tiny sensors can be mounted on needles, guidewires, catheters, or other medical devices used for minimally-invasive intra-body navigation. The 3-D position and orientation of the sensors can be calculated in real time and projected graphically on a fluoroscope, CT, MRI, ultrasound, or 3-D reconstructed image of the anatomy.

The goal of the gMPS system is to increase the accuracy and amount of information available to a physician during a catheterization or other minimally invasive procedure, while reducing the risk of exposure to radiation for the patient and medical team.

St. Jude Medical, which is headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, has five major focus areas: cardiac rhythm management, atrial fibrillation, cardiac surgery, cardiology and neuromodulation. With this transaction, MediGuide will become part of the St. Jude Medical atrial fibrillation division.

St. Jude Medical will purchase all outstanding shares of MediGuide, including Elbit’s holdings, for a total of $283m. in cash and the assumption of net liabilities totaling approximately $17m. St. Jude Medical will pay $138m. of the purchase price in December 2008, with the balance due in two subsequent payments of $111m. in November 2009 and up to $34m. in April 2010.

A platform technology with many applications

Last week, St. Jude Medical also announced the acquisition of cardiovascular technology developer Radi Medical Systems of Sweden for $250m. in cash.

Daniel J. Starks, chairman, president and CEO of St. Jude Medical said: “In addition to continuing our strong commitment to developing our atrial fibrillation platform, we believe MediGuide’s proprietary technology may also extend across a variety of other product categories, including cardiac rhythm management, interventional cardiology, neurology and structural heart disease.”

MediGuide is a 41.3 percent-owned subsidiary of defense electronics company Elbit Systems. Several of Elbit Systems’ military technologies have been spun-off to the commercial market, including Starling, which develops products for Internet communications on commercial aircraft; ImageSat, which is involved in satellite operation and providing satellite imagery; Chip PC, which develops and manufactures thin client solutions enabling server based computing technologies to replace traditional PCs, and others.

From jet-fighters to intra-body navigation

In a conference call discussing the acquisitions, Starks noted that: “MediGuide’s navigation technology is the result of 30 years of intense development in Israel for jet fighter pilot applications. MediGuide has devoted the last eight years full time under exclusive license to apply this technology for intra-body navigation in the context of catheter and other minimally invasive procedures. All of this technology for medical applications now belongs to St. Jude Medical. We expect to use it in the electro-physiology cath lab, the cardiology cath lab, in deep brain stimulation and in the OR.”

Starks made special note of the advantage MediGuide’s technology provided in reducing exposure to radiation. “It will take time and ongoing investment in research and development, but we can envision a future where a cath lab staff does not have to wear lead, where medical careers are not shortened by back injuries or radiation exposure, and where cath lab and other minimally invasive procedures can be completed more quickly, safely and cost-effectively in part due to our MediGuide navigation technology.”

“We look forward to working with the St. Jude Medical team,” said Gera Strommer, president and CEO of MediGuide, who is expected to join St. Jude Medical alongside Uzi Eichler, senior vice president of technology for MediGuide. “With their support, we will have the resources to more fully capitalize on MediGuide’s innovations and successfully move through the next stage of our development plans.”

Joseph Ackerman, president and CEO of Elbit Systems, said the acquisition provided MediGuide with an excellent opportunity to continue its growth, while allowing Elbit Systems to focus on its core business areas.

MediGuide’s gMPS technology and its gMPS Enabled Guided Measurement Catheter (GMC) are European CE Mark certified and, at present, limited to investigational use only in the US.

MediGuide developed its technologies with major partners in the field of intravascular and intracardiac imaging. The MPS Ready Cathlab environment was co-developed with
Philips Medical Systems and Siemens Medical Solutions. The gMPS Ready Devices environment was developed in cooperation with Volcano Corporation. Other technology partners included Asahi Intecc, co-developer of the innovative guidewire, and Medtronic, for MPS-enabled products.