Prostate Treatment Developer HistoSonics Gets $11M, U-M Tech Transfer Beams With Pride

4/20/10

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“executive-in-residence.” It’s a program sponsored, in part, by the Michigan Venture Capital Association using money from the state’s 21st Century Jobs Fund.

As the executive-in-residence, it was her job to take a year and look for a venture-worthy deal for the fund to invest in, then join the firm as an executive. HistoSonics was one of the very first deals she looked at, and knew at once that there was something there. There was a lab prototype for her to look at, and that had her hooked.

“Being able to see it work was really quite amazing to me,” Gibbons says. “To actually go to a lab, see its capabilities.”

In simple terms, what HistoSonics’ technology does is treat enlarged prostates with a noninvasive, image-guided system that does not use heat, as current systems do. Instead, it creates microscopic bubbles that more-precisely eats away at tissue, which then can be reabsorbed into the body or passed through urine. No opening up the patient, no use of blood thinners that produce other side effects.

The first application of the technology will be treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a condition that, Gibbons says, patients and their insurers spend more than $300 million treating in the United States every year and more than a half-a-billion-dollars worldwide. And, with the condition’s prevalence-it’s found in half of all men over 50 and 80 percent of men over 80-the market will only grow as the population ages.

The co-inventors of the technology are Charles Cain, Brian Fowlkes, Tim Hall, Zhen Xu and Dr. William Roberts, all from the University of Michigan.

What excites Gibbons about the technology is that it appears to carry with it a magic word among drug and medical-device developers: “Platform.” The BPH market, Gibbons says, is only the beginning. This technology, once honed and perfected, can eventually be deployed against other conditions, including cancer.

“This just looks like a platform technology that could be a true game-changer,” Gibbons says.

But, first thing’s first, the next couple of years at HistoSonics will be focused on developing the product and forming a strategy to navigate the regulatory process. The company has officially left its U-M mother ship and recently moved into new offices and labs on Liberty Road in Ann Arbor. They may hire another … Next Page »

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