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Start-up licenses novel needle biopsy device from U Arizona


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: June 13th, 2018

A start-up that graduated from the University of Arizona’s i-Corps program has licensed the design for a next-generation needle biopsy instrument from the school. The device uses both electrosurgery and electrocautery to safely increase the size of tissue samples in minimally invasive biopsy procedures.

The licensee is Data Driven Diagnostics Sciences, Inc. , or D3Sciences (D3S), and the founding inventors include Dr. Michael Larson, physician in the Department of Medical Imaging at the Banner-University Medical Center Tucson, and Dr. Charles Hennemeyer, assistant professor of medical imaging and division chief of vascular and interventional radiology at the College of Medicine-Tucson.

They worked with Tech Launch Arizona, the school’s commercialization arm, to protect the intellectual property, develop their business strategy, and form the executive team.

The start-up’s CEO Nicholas Lim connected with the inventors through as a volunteer in TLA’s Commercialization Partners program, which links experienced business executives and entrepreneurs with UA researchers to help under their inventions into the marketplace. They met when Hennemeyer and Larson brought their idea to the TLA-run National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps program, where they were paired with Lim as their mentor.

The inventors set out to solve a fundamental problem in cancer care: insufficient tissue from biopsy procedures. Pathologists receive miniscule amounts of tissue from needle biopsy procedures, insufficient to perform the sophisticated diagnostic tests needed for precisely targeted, advanced personalized medicine approaches to treatment that oncologists prefer. Without sufficient tissue, oncologists have no choice but to prescribe broad chemo-radiation therapy which may be less effective and cause serious side effects.

“The primary advantage of the UA design is its ability to scoop tissue from beyond the confines of the needle, collecting seven times the volume of tissue possible with today’s needle biopsy instruments. Our device cauterizes in the same procedure, minimizing the risk of complications,” Hennemeyer explained.

Dr. Larson added, “By providing a tool to obtain larger tissue samples, D3S will enable pathologists to complete comprehensive testing. With expanded test results, oncologists will be able to prescribe targeted genetic and molecular therapies.”

There’s an economic impact of the new device, as well as a very human one, Lim observed. “Repeat biopsies, which can occur at rates greater than 50% of cases, have been shown to increase the cost of care by more than 24%. The associated delay in treatment inflicts unnecessary financial and emotional distress to the patient while potentially impacting the odds of successful treatment.”

Source: Tech Launch Arizona

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