Monteris Medical has developed a system for 3-D brain surgery

March 11, 2013

Plymouth’s Monteris Medical has developed a system that uses lasers, catheters, MRI machines and special software to help surgeons treat brain cancer.

Lasers are used in a variety of medical treatments. Catheters have long been used to deliver treatments within the body. And MRI machines are a common tool for diagnostic imaging. Now a Plymouth-based company is pioneering the use of all those technologies in concert to treat brain cancer.

Notoriously difficult to treat, brain tumors often require a portion of the patient’s skull to be removed. But even then, some tumors are positioned in such a way that access is restricted or impossible.

Monteris Medical’s NeuroBlate System allows a neurosurgeon to precisely guide a laser-tipped catheter directly into a tumor and then kill only the diseased tissue. All the while the patient lies in an MRI machine. The procedure is minimally invasive, and patients can be on their feet within hours and sent home within a couple of days. They also can receive follow-up radiation and chemotherapy treatments much faster than if they received traditional surgery.

The key to this system is the company’s proprietary software that allows the surgeon to use the MRI machine to visualize the tumors in three dimensions and then control the catheter to destroy cancerous lesions right to the boundary of healthy tissue. The technology helps prevent damage to vitally important tissue that may surround a tumor.

The company received a $7.8 million round of venture capital financing in January and $9 million in May 2012. So far, the company has raised $48 million to develop and commercialize the system.

Monteris is owned by Canadian and U.S. venture capital funds and has offices in Plymouth and Winnipeg. John Schellhorn was named CEO in April 2012. Schellhorn is a veteran of a variety of medical device companies, most recently as the chief commercialization officer of California-based BÂRRX Medical until it was acquired by the global health care company Covidien in January 2012. He’s also worked at Soft­scope Medical Technologies Inc., EV3 Inc., ACMI Corp. and Boston Scientific.

Schellhorn moved Monteris Medical’s headquarters to Plymouth in September. “We choose to move here because we felt it was the best place to scale up the company,” Schellhorn said.

The company was founded in 1999, but it wasn’t until 2009 that its system was first used in a human. The company moved from the development stage to the commercial stage with the sale of its first system in 2011.

“We currently have seven installations,” Schellhorn said. “And they are all at leading academic institutions in the country.” The system is in place at five institutions in the United States, including the Cleveland Clinic and Yale University, one in Canada and a sixth site in the U.S. is planned.

The company also has reached a milestone in its commercialization phase after it recently treated its 100th patient.

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“We currently have seven installations and they are all at leading academic institutions in the country.The system is in place at five institutions in the United States, including the Cleveland Clinic and Yale University, one in Canada and a sixth site in the U.S. is planned. -John Schellhorn, CEO, Monteris Medical