Medical device that eliminates cancer cells in the bladder

Editors note: The article was featured in Calcalist (Hebrew)

The current epidemic teaches us that the Israeli medical industry, despite being pushed aside by “hot” industries such as cyber and quantum computing, is a significant and resilient sector that continues to grow during these times of global crises, as we are experiencing today. Even before these recent developments, the State of Israel announced a digital health initiative of NIS 922 million in investment and cooperation with major health funds, whose main goals are accelerating the growth of Israeli digital healthcare companies and increasing exports.

The Israeli medtech industry includes more than 500 blue and white start-up companies that are developing and providing a range of innovative medical solutions in many fields. One of the most notable is Vessi Medical, which has developed an innovative technology to eliminate bladder cancer cells.

The fourth most common cancer in men in the Western world

Superficial bladder cancer (which does not damage the muscle) is common in men over the age of 55 and is the fourth most common cancer in men in the Western world (after prostate, lung and colon cancer), and accounts for approximately 5 to 10 percent of all cancers in men in Europe and the US. Due to the identification and medical treatment, this cancer does not usually cause death, but the existing treatments have a significant impact on the quality of patients’ lives. Today, the most common treatment for superficial bladder cancer involves general anesthesia, under which the doctor “scraps” the cancer cells (and then performs a “washing” of the bladder). This surgical procedure, in addition to being very expensive and very invasive, is complicated and endangers the bladder, and is therefore performed with the utmost care and delicacy and usually fails to prevent recurrence (in approximately 50% to 80% of these cases, cancer recurs). Since the patients require repeated surgery, these surgeries can cause additional bladder problems and significantly impair the patient’s quality of life, for example, urinary tract infections, bladder injury, bleeding and other complications.

Adaptation of proven and successful medical technology for the treatment of complex cancers

Cryotherapy is a cell-freezing technology used for various medical procedures and is used effectively in the treatment of cancers of various types (skin, kidney, lung and more). Using this technology, the cancer cells undergo rapid freezing and thawing, which successfully eliminates the cancer cells. Due to the anatomic complexity of the bladder and the need to avoid any injury to the organ itself during the surgical procedure, cryotherapy-based treatment for bladder cancer has not been possible to date.

For the first time, the system developed by Vessi Medical, allows treatment of superficial bladder cancer with cryotherapy technology, without the need for surgery. This innovative treatment combines Vessi Medical’s unique cryo system with standard optics, allowing the doctor to recognize the cancer cells, and control the accuracy of the treatment, in real time. This innovative technology balances the cooling temperature and the ideal degree of pressure for targeted cell destruction while fully protecting the bladder. Furthermore, this technology solves the “cloudiness” issue, allowing the treating physician to identify and “burn” (freeze and thaw) all cancerous targeted cells without bleeding or puncturing of the bladder, as demonstrated in preclinical trials.

Breakthrough technology in a huge market with a great need for innovation

Vessi Medical’s innovative device caters to many medical markets: Firstly, the bladder cancer market, which is among the market with the highest patient care costs, and the fifth most expensive treatment in medical expenses ($3.7 billion a year). In this market, the costs of medical procedures that are relevant to the company are estimated at $1.2 billion a year, with about half of the target market located in the US. Vessi Medical’s technology is expected to reduce costs by tens of percent, not only in the direct costs of medical care but also significantly reducing the cost of care and medical expenses resulting from recurrence of the disease and impairing the quality of patients’ lives. Secondly, the non-cancerous bladder treatment market. The company’s innovative technology enables additional treatments which are non-cancerous, and previously unavailable for the bladder, such as urinary tract infections, irritable bladder and more. These markets are valued at $15 billion a year.

Read the full article in Hebrew.