“Only so often in life does the opportunity to leave a footprint on the legacy of mankind come along.”- Larry Gerrans, CEO
Continuous progress in medical technology has allowed doctors to improve diagnoses, intervene early and save lives. Early intervention and treatment not only save lives, but ultimately lower related health care costs. Medical interventions, the ability to access the body without surgery to diagnose and treat, have flourished in the past few decades. Now, however, opportunity and necessity have combined to redefine what is possible through interventions and to make what is possible accessible, affordable, and safe for more people.
Sanovas, Inc., is a Life Science company developing the next generation of minimally invasive surgical tools and cancer treatment technologies targeting pulmonary and multiple other medical specialties. Sanovas’ access, imaging, and measurement technologies enable physicians to safely perform advanced, multi-instrument and multi-modal diagnostic and therapeutic procedures within previously inaccessible anatomies. These procedures will make localized, interventional treatments for lung cancer and other serious diseases available to millions of people, globally reducing the need for open surgeries and cancer treatments that create systemic toxicity and side effects.
Genesis of Sanovas
“Somebody perishes from Lung Cancer every 3 minutes. We are committed to changing that! The inspiration to make a difference and to be a change agent is core to our inspiration and focus.”
The company was incepted with a singular pursuit to innovate small diameter ‘Smart’ technologies that could deliver drugs and immune therapies to the periphery of the Lung to cure Lung Cancer. The course of its development required the company to overcome the many procedural risks and technological limitations needed to navigate the small airways of the lungs.
Before Sanovas, minimally invasive interventional technology for the lungs was essentially non-existent. Frankly, there was no company that had planted its flag in the ground and said ‘we are a company developing technologies to treat and cure lung disease.’ In fact, even today the technologies used in the lungs are technologies that have been extracted from other surgical specialties. The technologies that are being used today have been borrowed from cardiology, urology, and GI surgery and were not invented or purposed specifically for the lungs. Sanovas has fundamentally changed the approach to lung treatment and lung therapy. It was one of the first companies to develop pulmonary tools invented by or developed in concert with pulmonologists.
The company has developed a portfolio of products and generated over 100 patents. These products are so small and so advanced that they will advance intervention in other areas of the body. One spectacular example of the company’s innovation is its MicroCam™ Imaging Technology. These handheld ‘Plug-N-Play’ surgical cameras reduce the size of current cart based endoscopy systems by as much as 90% and reduce their costs of acquisition by up to 80% for hospitals and healthcare facilities around the world.
Recognizing this opportunity, multiple subsidiary companies have been created by Sanovas to address the unmet clinical needs in other surgical sectors.
Unique Strategies Assuring Success
The company’s business strategy is to innovate and develop comprehensive surgical solutions that advance intervention beyond current limits and to vertically integrate the selling channel. Sanovas does this by creating integrated sets of tools that make up the entirety of the “Tool Belt” required to perform the intervention in a target anatomy.
This strategy follows a technology development tactic pioneered by Larry, known as A.I.M., which is an acronym that stands for Access, Image, and Measure.
The company first developed the tools and technologies required to Access the intended anatomy in the least invasive fashion. Next, they created the Imaging solutions to see the anatomy and better perform the surgery. Having solved the Access and Imaging challenges, they developed instruments that allow the surgeon to Measure and palpate the anatomy remotely. This enables the doctor to gain a better understanding of the condition of the anatomy. Surgeons cannot touch and feel the anatomy with their fingers in minimal invasive procedures, as they can in open surgery. This enables the doctor to truly take ‘A.I.M.,’ To complete the “Tool Belt”, Sanovas develops the tools required to both diagnose and treat the target anatomy.
In building the systems that allow surgeons to take ‘A.I.M.’, Sanovas drives cash flow by providing surgeons the ubiquitous set of tools that become resident in every procedure. The company intends to leverage this ongoing stream of cash flow to drive continued innovation and growth through acquisition.
In colloquy with Larry Gerrans, President and CEO
Can you brief us on your journey with the company from inception until now?
We have a lot of friends and family who have died of lung cancer. We also have employees, working and struggling to survive and beat cancer.
We are deeply connected with the patients. So, our journey has also been a sentimental pursuit. It has been a very interesting and very gratifying because one of the things that differentiates our company from the rest is that we are creating technologies inspired and influenced by doctors for the use of doctors on behalf of patients worldwide!
Our investors are also inspired to do good by making a socially responsible investment, so ours is a sentimental pursuit in many ways.
Do you want to share some of the challenges you faced?
It is sad that the medical industry is so highly burdened with bureaucracy especially on the regulatory side of the business.
Stanford recently published a study that related the average cost of bringing a simple 510(k) device to the market is $34 million dollars, of which $23 million relates specifically to the FDA clearance process.
This hyper-regulation has been an impediment in advancing medical technology and has for a long time fundamentally stifled innovation in medicine.
What sets Sanovas apart?
What makes Sanovas unique is that we have been diligent in surrounding the company with very best minds and best talents from the clinical, scientific and legal communities, to help us advance our technologies and our mission. We have a joint venture with Mayo Clinic on a surgical cure for asthma; we have just completed a clinical study with UCLA. We are involved in clinical studies with Cleveland Clinic, and we are working closely with doctors from John Hopkins and Duke. Furthermore, we have a joint development relationship with physicians from Harvard.
It has been very gratifying and obviously, we are working with some of the leading hospital systems in the world. We have great executives in the company who have 35 to 40 years of experience working for major Fortune 50 life science companies.
Our team has allowed us to accelerate a number of our technologies into multiple market verticals. We have a huge portfolio of pulmonary technologies for lung cancer and other diseases. We’ve diversified those assets into ENT and other specialties by creating multiple companies focused on treating a variety of major diseases. We also have exciting technology platforms in urology, gynecology as well as a number of exciting developments for minimally invasive heart procedures.
Can you please help us understand the current market landscape of your company?
Sanovas has created a platform of small diameter highly sophisticated smart tools to go into small diameter lumens in the body to provide diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities that have never been possible before. So, essentially we are taking minimally invasive surgery to the next level. What’s exciting about that is that when you look at the global marketplace for advanced medical technologies from 2000 through 2005, there were about 750 million addressable patients, largely comprised of middle class workers who are typically Americans, Europeans, Canadians, Japanese, and upper class throughout the rest of the world. What we have seen since is a huge expansion in the global middle-class. There will be 3.1 billion middle-class workers by 2020 and 4.9 billion middle-class workers by 2030.
Thanks to the innovations made in telecommunications in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, and innovations in information technology combined with social media, we now have a highly connected world.
A patient in a rural village in the middle of Afghanistan or in the hinterlands of China, whose cell phone can get on the internet, can find a symptom checker, can diagnose the disease state, and can find a doctor who can help them with that disease.
They can go online and evaluate the various technologies that are available to them to treat that disease.
These technologies allow them to find where those medical solutions are accessible. This has created a huge global medical marketplace for Sanovas’ technologies.
Key to Sanovas’ medical technology platform is that we have developed highly affordable miniaturized devices that plug directly into a monitor, laptop or iPhone to help the doctor with improved imaging during a surgical procedure. That could be in the office, the field or in a rural village.
We’ve closed the gap on how and where minimally invasive surgical procedures can be performed.
From an economic perspective, Sanovas is very well positioned. We have created a “tool belt” of next generation devices and a portfolio of companies that is lowering the cost of care in the existing markets and is expanding advanced surgical care into the emerging market place.
We’re enabling a massive advance in the delivery of better care to the global patient population.
A Visionary Entrepreneur Who Sees the Bigger Picture
Larry Gerrans, President, and CEO of Sanovas, Inc. is the man behind the success of Sanovas. He is an innovator and a passionate leader whose inventions and pursuits, on behalf of the Life Sciences, have created meaningful and enduring contributions to humanity. For more than 20 years, Larry has played a leading role in the innovation and deployment of Minimally Invasive Surgical (MIS) Techniques, devices and implant systems for the burgeoning endoscopic markets in the Cardiothoracic, General Surgery, Urological, Neuro-surgical, Gynecological, ENT, Orthopedic, Spine and Sports Medicine Arenas. Many of his pioneering contributions have become the ‘Gold Standard’ for diagnostic and therapeutic intervention across these Life Sciences.
As the Founder, President and CEO of Sanovas, Larry has written over 100 patents and has been leading an elite group of innovators developing groundbreaking interventional technologies to treat the diseases of the Lung and to cure Lung Cancer. Larry was on the ground floor of minimally invasive surgery in the early 1990’s. He has been a key figure in the surgical arts, driving the development and adoption of many of the minimally invasive procedures that are now considered the “Standard of Care” in everything from Spine Surgery and Sports Medicine to Gynecology and Heart surgery. Larry is also the Founder and Chairman of Human Tissue Banks, Inc., nonprofit corporation that is providing allograft resources to the highly promising innovations being forged in bio-regenerative medicine, 3-D printing of organs, “Bio-Inks” and Stem Cell Engineering.