Hillel's Tech Corner: Good news in fight against cancer

As far as treating cancer, there are pretty much two options most people have heard of.

TECHSOMED'S SYSTEM removes the ‘blindfold’ in the thermal ablation cancer treatment, a minimally invasive procedure that basically ‘burns’ the cancer until it dies (photo credit: Courtesy)
TECHSOMED'S SYSTEM removes the ‘blindfold’ in the thermal ablation cancer treatment, a minimally invasive procedure that basically ‘burns’ the cancer until it dies
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Is it just me or is cancer everywhere I look? I am hearing more and more cases of friends and colleagues being diagnosed, on the one hand, and more and more research being done about an eventual cure for this most horrible global plague, on the other.
Of course, anyone who knows anything about cancer will tell you that there is no one cancer, every cancer is different and therefore, finding a cure, like we all want to believe is possible, is not really as simple as it may sound.
The good news is that there are so many treatments being developed and deployed across the globe, and the even better news is, from a purely national pride perspective, many of those treatments are being developed in this tiny little country called Israel.
As far as treating cancer, there are pretty much two options most people have heard of. There is chemotherapy and there is surgery, neither of which is exactly an ideal solution for some very obvious reasons and some less obvious reasons.
The obvious ones include a long recovery, high risk, intense side effects and more. The less obvious reasons that chemo and surgically removing tumors are not ideal include the complications that often occur as a result of these procedures.
There is a third option, that truth be told, thankfully, I had never even heard of. Thermal ablation, which is a minimally invasive procedure that uses heat to destroy the tissue – basically “burning” the cancer until it dies. The most common cancers treated by this method are lung cancer, liver cancer and kidney (renal) cancer, which represent more than 60% of all cancer, 10 million cases annually, worldwide. Other cancers can also be treated with ablation, assuming the tumors are accessible and of appropriate size.
It is important to mention that thermal ablation is not only used to treat cancer. This procedure exists for 30 years and it is the preferred treatment today for treating a wide range of medical conditions such as interventional oncology (removing cancerous tumors), cardiology (treating heart arrhythmia), pain management (relieving chronic pain) and bringing a much-needed replacement to addictive opioid abuse and more.
So, what is the catch? Why isn’t thermal ablation the cure we have all been waiting for? Well, sadly, there is a major catch. Ablation has a big drawback, namely, a high rate of treatment failures since the physicians are unable to visualize or control the damage that they create during the procedure. They don’t know in real time whether they destroyed the whole target tissue or even the correct tissue (collateral damage to adjacent healthy tissue) and have to wait 24 hours to learn the results. This causes high failure rates (tumor recurrence, for example) or complications, making physicians opt for other treatments.
TechsoMed, an Israel-based Biotech company is removing this “blindfold.” TechsoMed is developing BioTrace – the world’s first real-time monitoring and control systems for the ablation procedure. They were introduced to me by one of their investors, JJDC, the venture arm of Johnson & Johnson.
TechsoMed’s BioTrace is an imaging and analysis unit that performs real-time monitoring and control of tissue destruction by the ablation devices. It gives the doctor visibility into the results of the procedure, in real-time as it is performed.
The technology has the advantage of imaging the biological response of the tissue, and by using advanced AI and image analysis, can provide not only the damage caused during the procedure, but predict the cumulative damage formed after the procedure has ended, which today can only be seen 24 hours after, in CECT.
The company’s technology dramatically improves the thermal ablation process, since it provides physicians with the ability to have real time continuous monitoring of the lesion growth and real time feedback for measuring therapy outcomes and achieving the desired results, without changing anything in the physician’s existing work flow and by using a standard, available USL device.
The safety, efficacy and significant cost reduction TechsoMed offers to physicians, makes its product the go-to system for ablation procedures worldwide.
Over the last 12 months, TechsoMed has made significant advancements in three main areas. The team has validated its algorithm with preclinical and clinical trials in Mayo Clinic (USA), UTH (Japan) and Sheba Medical Center (Israel) with 54 patients. The trials were conducted in collaboration with leading ablation and ultrasound companies, including GE, Phillips, and of course J&J, who ultimately invested capital in the company as a result of its clinical successes. Additionally, the company has signed some highly strategic partnerships with leading names and providers of ultrasound and ablation devices. Finally, the company has grown to 15 employees and opened up a subsidiary in Japan after signing a deal with the third largest bank in Japan, Mizuho, through their venture arm, Axil Capital.
Over the next 12 months, the company is aiming to receive regulation, and is looking to integrate its technology into ultrasound and ablation devices across the world, making it the default tool for patients seeking out this type of treatment.
The company’s tagline says it all: “No tumor left behind.”