Focal Therapeutics' 3-D tissue marker for targeted cancer therapy reaches milestone

Focal Therapeutics is working to address the idea of targeted breast cancer therapy in a way that most drug companies don't. The California outfit markets a 3-D tissue marker designed to help surgeons spot the precise site for tumor removal and subsequent delivery of radiation treatment.

It's an advance that boosts the standard of care by enabling more precise hits for both tumor removal and the radiotherapy that follows, lessening the risk of damage to surrounding healthy tissue. The company's BioZorb tool has now been used in more than 100 patients in the U.S. and New Zealand, the company said, representing a slow but steady advance for the product since its 510(k) clearance in February 2012.

Tissue markers aren't new. But Focal Therapeutics has a number of bells and whistles incorporated into BioZorb that help it stand out. The springlike device uses 6 permanent titanium clips in a 3-D, fixed arrangement, the company explains. In a new innovation, those clips are surgically attached to tissues surrounding the area where a tumor is removed, keeping the marker in place for supertargeted radiation that follows surgery. While most markers must be taken out at some point, BioZorb dissolves over time, meaning a patient faces fewer surgeries.

Focal Therapeutics' management team includes President and CEO George Hermann, a founder or executive of a number of startups now owned by companies including Medtronic ($MDT), Covidien ($COV), Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and others, according to the company's website. Chief Medical Officer Gail Lebovic invented products including the MammoPad breast cushion, and Chief Technology Officer James Stubbs is a veteran executive from companies including Cianna Medical, Proxima Therapeutics and Cytyc, the latter two of which are now owned by Hologic.

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