The Silicon Review
“The SmartClipTM and EnvisioTM Navigation System have now been utilized by leading surgeons in the United States to treat almost 3000 cancer patients, the majority of whom were undergoing breast conserving surgery or removal of a lymph node.”
Improved cancer screening and advances in medical imaging have resulted in the more frequent diagnosis of smaller, non-palpable, and asymptomatic tumors. Smaller tumors are often well-suited to treatment using less-invasive techniques such as laparoscopy, ablation, limited resections, and robotic surgery. However, one of the unanticipated consequences of operating on smaller imaging-diagnosed lesions has been the difficulty in precisely locating them at the time of surgery. Without knowing the exact location of the target, surgeons can not take full advantage of less invasive techniques to spare normal tissue, decrease positive margin rates, and minimize complications.
Breast cancer treatment has benefited from this trend towards earlier diagnosis. For example, between 1975 and 2012, the proportion of breast tumors less than 2 cm has increased from 36 to 68%. Despite this drop in average tumor size, positive margins and re-excision rates remain stubbornly high—estimated at 20-30% after breast-conserving surgery.
That said, we’re thrilled to present Elucent Medical—a company dedicated to improving breast cancer care. The company has developed a real-time surgical navigation platform which enables physicians to return to the exact location where a malignant tumor was biopsied. The company’s technology is optimized for use in soft tissues that lack precise anatomic landmarks at the time of surgery such as breast and lung. Elucent was incorporated in 2014 and is headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
The Silicon Review contacted Laura G. King, Founder and CEO of Elucent Medical, who spoke about how the company is making a difference in the surgical navigation space, and how it plans to stay at the forefront. Below is an excerpt:
Q. How does Elucent solve the unanswered problem of delivering oncologic therapies at the precise location of the disease?
The problem that we are solving is an age-old one. Tumors are diagnosed and biopsied using highly advanced imaging systems such as CT, MRI, ultrasound, or mammography. However, at the time of surgery, the surgeon has no way of knowing exactly where that biopsy came from, and so the location for the resection is often an educated guess. The EnvisioTM Navigation System works by locating the precise coordinates of an embedded wireless SmartClipTM that can be placed at the time of biopsy. The SmartClipTM emits a unique electromagnetic signature that tells the surgeon exactly where the clip and margin are located. The ability to tell the surgeon the exact location of the tumor and margin are very valuable for removing breast cancer and other diseases in soft tissues that often lack distinct anatomic landmarks, such as in the breast, lung, colon, and lymph nodes.
Q. What more can you tell us about the SmartClipTM Soft Tissue Marker and EnVisioTM Surgical Navigation System?
The SmartClipTM and EnvisioTM Navigation System have now been utilized by leading surgeons in the United States to treat almost 3000 cancer patients, the majority of whom were undergoing breast conserving surgery or removal of a lymph node. The early data would suggest an opportunity to decrease positive margins and re-excision rates by approximately 50%. This lower re-excision rate has a real-world impact on patients’ quality of life as well as substantially decreasing health care costs.
Q. What are the company’s focus areas?
Our current focus is on improving oncologic outcomes and decreasing health care costs through expansion of the number of breast surgeons that have access to our technology. We are concurrently developing a product to assist in locating lung lesions for surgeons that will be resected using video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) and robotically-assisted thoracic surgery (RATS).
Q. How skilled is the Elucent team of experts? And how do they bring value to your business?
As anyone who has been involved in a start-up knows, it takes a village. We are blessed with talented and experienced founders with expertise in radiology, surgery, medical device technology, and business. However, our secret sauce is a mix that includes investors who believe in us, an experienced leadership team that understands both how to bring a product to market through regulatory pathways, and an outstanding commercial team that are the “sherpas” for introducing new technology into clinical practice.
Q. What new endeavors is Elucent currently undertaking?
The core Elucent technology is a platform for surgical navigation within a space of roughly 35 x 50 x 50 cm. Therefore, it has the potential to be used in virtually any body space. Our first post-breast application will be in the lung where we are working with radiologists, thoracic surgeons, and interventional pulmonologists to enable thoracic surgeons to locate lung tumors during RATS or VATS for precise excision. We believe that this has the potential to decrease the amount of lung tissue removed during surgery which is important in patients with compromised pulmonary function.
Q. Is there anything else you want us to highlight that we might have missed?
We view the keys to success as our incredible people combined with a novel technology that allows a surgeon to know where they are inside the body in real-time—without the limitations of line-of-sight, wires, or complex pre-procedure registration to imperfect imaging studies. The future clinical applications are limitless with radiation therapy and colon cancer on our road map.
Laura G. King, Founder & CEO
Laura G. King is both a founder and the Chief Executive Officer of Elucent Medical. Prior to Elucent, Ms. King led NeuWave Medical, a Madison, WI-based and University of Wisconsin spinoff that developed and commercialized a device to ablate tumors in the liver, kidney, lung, and bone. Ms. King led NeuWave Medical for seven years, successfully raising $33 M in venture capital and doubling revenue every year. NeuWave Medical had a very successful exit, selling to J&J Ethicon in 2016. Prior to joining the start-up world, Ms. King was a GE Company Officer and led the 1.2 billion Global Interventional Cardiology and Surgery business.
Raised in San Francisco, CA, she is a graduate of the University of California-Davis in Economics.