A stealth mode Simi Valley, California startup wants to disrupt the field of how benign prostatic hyperplasia(BPH) is treated.
The traditional methods include drug therapy and when that fails, surgical procedures involving the urethra and heat energy.
But adapting techniques from orthopedics and ophthalmology, UroTech Surgical has developed a minimally invasive device that can reduce the size of the prostate without involving the urethra or using heat. The company expects to file a 510(k) and win clearance in early 2013.
Founder and CEO Michael Todd won’t reveal too many details about the procedure and the device except to say that it uses the transrectal approach to the prostate as opposed to a transurethral approach. Current surgical procedures also employ heat to reduce the size of the prostate, unlike UroTech Surgical’s patent-pending approach.
But using heat to destroy abnormal tissue creates “collateral damage” in healthy tissue when conventional surgical methods such as ablation or laser, or some other heating mechanism is used to shrink the size of the prostate. Involving the sensitive urethra also results in slow, painful recovery, Todd said.
Because UroTech Surgical’s process eschews both these options, recovery times are faster and less painful than conventional treatments like transurethral resection of the prostate, that is still considered the “gold standard,” Todd said.
But surgical treatments like TURP is not the only competition that UroTech has in the marketplace. Drugs like Flomax and Proscar are also prescribed to men suffering from BPH.
But Todd said that over time these pharmaceutical treatments fail to work and in some cases have shown to have side effects. For instance, in June 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that BPH drugs like Proscar and Avodart increase the potential for prostate cancer.
In developing a more safe and effective therapy, UroTech Surgical wants to be an alternative treatment for the 15 million men who suffer from BPH in the U.S. Thus far, the company has raised more $500,000 by issuing debt to “minimize the dilution” to shareholders, Todd explained.
“We are currently working with a private equity bank to connect us to high net worth individuals,” Todd said. “We believe this product has the ability to do special things.”
NeoTract, another California startup,is the only other firm that is developing an innovative product to treat BPH, Todd said. That company, similar to UroTech, does not ablate tissue. But unlike UroTech, is more invasive given that its UroLift system employs permanent implants that are “placed transurethrally to retract the obstructing prostatic lobes while leaving the prostate intact.”