AGA Tech Summit

Entrepreneurs attempt to convince the Shark Tank experts that they can address unmet needs


 

REPORTING FROM 2018 AGA TECH SUMMIT

New device treats esophageal cancers with electroporation

There are a variety of tools to treat upper GI cancers endoscopically, including with radiofrequency ablation, cryotechnology, and photodynamic therapy, but morbidity rates are high, according to Declan Soden, founder of Mirai Medical. He described the attributes of a new technology based on electroporation in which electrical pulses painlessly target neoplastic tissue while preserving adjacent healthy tissue. He said that the treatment is performed in a matter of minutes on an outpatient basis.

“Clinical results to date have demonstrated the benefit of the technology in the treatment of late-stage esophageal and colorectal disease,” Mr. Soden said. He believes that the “unique selling point” of this electroporation treatment, which is part of a complete treatment regimen, “is that it renders tumor tissue leaky or porous, allowing absorption and uptake of drugs.” Relative to current standards, the treatment has multiple advantages, not least of which is preservation of quality of life, he believes.

The Sharks posed many technical questions about this strategy that might narrow the applicability of this device. For example, Trey Reed, MD, medical director, Humana Inc., posed questions about the depth of penetration of the electoral pulses and where they can be adjusted for tumors of different sizes. He also questioned whether the device will be too large to penetrate lumens obstructed by tumor. Although Mr. Soden believes that the device will be versatile, he acknowledged that its role might be better understood when phase 2 trials begin later this year.

A moderator at the Shank Tank session and a previous CGIT Chair, Dr. Kochman reported that he was impressed with the crop of entries. As one of the creators of the AGA Tech Summit, Dr. Kochman has the experience to recognize good ideas when he hears them.

“It is gratifying to see the high quality of the Shark Tank presenters. Over the past years, a number of the presenting companies have gone on to obtain additional funding, be acquired, and on to successful launches,” Dr. Kochman observed. “We hope the same successes await this year’s group.”

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