Via RAVI PARIKH October 9th, 2012.
I spent last Wednesday at AdvaMed 2012, the annual global medtech conference, speaking to individual entrepreneurs and country representatives. It was a nice contrast to the large-scale roundtables and panels, as it gave me a chance to see what specific companies have in the pipeline and what services they offer. This post will focus on the company representatives I spoke to, while my next post will focus on interviews with foreign country reps.
I first spoke with Larry Gerrans, CEO of Sanovas, a Sausalito, a CA-based company launched in 2010. Sanovas is developing an innovative micro-surgical platform for diagnosing and treating lung cancer and other pulmonary diseases. According to Larry, 96 million people have or at risk for developing pulmonary disease, most notably lung cancer. However, diagnosis often occurs when the disease has already metastasized throughout the lungs and/or body. Larry and colleagues had an idea in 2001 to advance the miniaturization of lung-based diagnostics, as the lung was a traditionally difficult area to visualize non-operatively. Utilizing the world’s smallest surgical camera, Sanovas’ technology allows surgeons to access, visualize and deliver treatments to areas of the anatomy that were previously inaccessible with lower risks of bleeding that other devices due to a non-thermal recannulation methods. In addition to the camera, Sanovas is working on technologies in both diagnostics and targeted delivery therapeutics. For example, Larry showed me an internal video of a balloon-based catheter that allows for targeted resection of lung disease. Such a procedure, among other benefits, could transform what would normally be a 1-week postoperative stay for an open lung biopsy to a 23-hour stay after an outpatient procedure.
Check out a video of Larry speaking as part of a segment on lung cancer on the TV show “Profiles with Terry Bradshaw”.
I next spoke with Chris Jones, CEO of Glysure Limited. Glysure is working to develop in-hospital continuous glucose monitoring devices. Tight glucose monitoring (TGM) has been shown in several studies to be a critical determinant of mortality in ICU and critically ill patients. To achieve TGM, however, we must first have a method to measure glucose real-time in ICUs rather than by fingersticks. The GlySure solution is a single-use multi-day intravascular fiber optic sensor with integrated automatic calibration. Its particular chemistry enables low-cost, high margin sensors. Clinical trials in ICU settings, which began in 2010, have confirmed the sensors’ performance and the ability of Glysure to provide a new dimension in Intensive Insulin Therapy (IIT).
I next had a chance to speak with Patty Nichols, Director of Medical Technology at Travelers. Travelers, a Texas-based insurance company, works to protect emerging global medtech companies by providing property and liability coverage. Speaking to Patty was interesting because it brought to light many of the potential issues that emerging entrepreneurs may face as they work to develop their technologies and brought to light potential unforeseen problems. For example, Travelers gave a presentation at AdvaMed this year on “Device Hacking”, potential theft of data from emerging companies, and how these companies can protect against that.
My last two interviews of the day were with two companies that focus in part on product development. I spoke to Gillian Davies, Ph.D., Senior Consultant of Sagentia, a global technology and product development company. Sagentia focuses on both large multinational companies and small startups in providing consulting for product design and company development. Gillian and I had a great conversation on how medtech companies can no longer focus on just the “coolness” of their technologies. With increasing focus on outcomes and impact in health care systems, companies must work backward from an unmet need to a technology and not the other way around. Gillian spoke about how the “technology push” has persisted for far too long in the US, and how clinical need and usability will become the primary determinants of success, especially as venture capital funding becomes more limited. The example she specifically gave to me was of iBGStar, Sanofi’s blood glucose monitoring system, which now sells on the Apple Store in addition to directly to physicians.
The last person I spoke to at the end of a very long day was Simon Karger, Associate Director of Surgical & Interventional products at Cambridge Consultants. Cambridge Consultants is a leading medical technology design and development firm with offices in Cambridge, MA, and UK. Coincidentally, they also hosted an industry workshop in Boston recently to discuss the future of surgery, so they had some interesting insights and thoughts in that area. Cambridge Consultants has been focusing on the surgical and interventional space of surgery to develop ideas into usable tools for general surgeons. In particular, they touted the success of their leadless pacemaker, the Wireless Cardiac Stimulation system (WiCS), in collaboration with start-up company EBR Systems. Cambridge Consultants has several technologies in the pipeline including an ultrasonic technology to diagnose and mechanically reduce blood clots in the legs.