Posts Tagged Intuitive Surgical

“Entrepreneurs must Focus on Market Pain” – Norman Winarsky, SRI


EPPIC organization was found in 1998, with a mission to promote networking, entrepreneurship, and mentoring for life science professionals.  Each year, EPPIC Annual Conference provides a wonderful forum to realize this mission. EPPICon on March 29, 2014 was held at Westin, SF and began with opening remarks by Dr. Norman Winarksy, Vice President at SRI Ventures.

SRI or Stanford Research Institute was found in 1946 to help Stanford University professors make an impact in the world.  It has a staff of 2500, of whom 1000 have advanced degrees and current revenue is in the range of $600M. InvestorPeterGerber&InventorDougEnglebartMany revolutionary technologies like the mouse (invented by Doug Engelbart whom I had an opportunity to meet, before he passed away, when I took his picture inserted here with the first red mouse that investor Peter Gerber is holding), electronic banking, robotic surgery (which spun out as Intuitive Surgical), and SIRI to name a few, have come out of SRI.  All SRI personnel are taught to identify the value proposition and work towards that goal, said Winarksy. SRI is a non-profit organization but gives 34% of royalty to the individual or the team that worked on the specific technology and that is how SRI competes with high salaries in Silicon Valley.  SRI process always begins with identifying the market pain, ideally a larger market opportunity.  Out of about 2000 opportunities identified, about 3-4 get funded and get about 10X return; many of the others become licensing deals and the rest die.  Currently Tempo, a smart calendar is showing a lot of promise, said Winarsky. This was a great start to a day that proceeded with excellent panels, speed pitch sessions and SIG networking opportunities.

Next EPPIC event will be held on May 6 at 6pm at Cubberley Theater, 4000 Middlefield Rd, Palo Alto.  Dr. Sarvajna Dwivedi, CSO at Pearl Therapeutics will talk about the entrepreneurship journey that took him and his co-founder to build from a tiny spin out, from Nektar Therapeutics, a world class multi-site organization.  Pearl Therapeutics was bought by Astra Zeneca last year, for $1.15 B.  To register for the event go to http://www.eppicglobal.org .

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Intravascular Magellan Robotics Catheter System by Hansen Medical


Francis Macnamara, VP of Advanced Technology at Hansen Medical, talked about their proprietary intravascular robotic catheter system at www.bio2devicegroup.org event.

Hansen Medical was found in 2002, as an alternate to Intuitive Surgical’s robotic surgical tools.  Intuitive’s tools are rigid tools that require incision closer to the organ, said Macnamara.  A flexible device can go in through the femoral artery and can get a flexible catheter inside, with the control of the robots.  Sensei system was Hansen Medical’s first electrophysiology based robotic navigation system that offered catheter stability with force sensing, with a potential for reduced fluoro for physicians, and instinctive 3D control at the tip. Sensei systems mapped out the heart, prior to doing the ablation.  Hansen Medical has now unveiled a new catheter system, the Magellan Robotics Catheter System.

But first, how big is the EP market and what is the prevalence of AF or atrial fibrillation?  About 3.1 M Americans suffer from AF.  Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia in elderly persons and it creates a huge potential risk for stroke.  In 2012, the US, market for cardiac rhythm management (CRM), electrophysiology, and ablation devices, was valued at $6.8 billion.  Worldwide, over 13,000 AF procedures are done annually, said Macnamara.  Over 1150 AF patients are treated in EC/IRB approved clinical studies.  These procedures lead to 100% success in delivering therapeutic modality.

Open surgeries are going down across the world and most procedures are now increasingly minimally invasive procedures.  However, like interventional surgeons, the vascular surgeons often lack the skills for doing minimally invasive surgeries.  Surgeons would be more effective with robotic procedures specifically around complex regions of the anatomy, like the aortic arch, common carotids etc.   By pushing the catheters in these complex anatomical regions, these procedures can lead to major complications.  With robotically steering the catheters, these complications can be avoided, said Macnamara.  Additionally, with greater control at the tip, surgeons can make controlled lesions and stable sheath helps with the placement.   With robotic procedures, the surgeons can also have more predictability and certainly with regards to time.  Since surgeons have to be prepared for complications that can turn non robotic surgeries into open procedures, they have to block extra period of time.  With robotic surgeries, they can adhere to the time schedule and thus it would enhance their efficiency.

Hansen Medical recently unveiled its new Magellan Robotic System that cannulates peripheral vessels and delivers simultaneous distal tip control of a catheter and a sheath from a centralized, remote workstation.  Macnamara showed videos that indicate that this system gives the physician a right balance of flexibility with precision and control.  Early adoption in Europe indicates great success in procedures like PAD, Splenic Aneurysm, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms and so on.  Clinical data suggests that with this system there is less vessel wall trauma to the patients, while the physicians experience greater success with higher efficiency.  The next gen system will give independent control of both bends as research indicates that double bend will deliver huge benefits.  Hansen Medicals’s technology is very exciting and we will stay tuned.  The talk ended with highly interactive Q&A session.  Magellan Robotic System

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