Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 04/4/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
On Wednesday, Monteris Medical received regulatory clearance to sell its MRI-guided device for treating deep-seated brain tumours in Canada.
The company was started in Winnipeg in 1999, originating from technology developed at the St. Boniface General Hospital Research Centre.
The software in the device allows surgeons to insert a probe into the patient's brain, and with the assistance of MRI images, burn out the tumour with a laser without damaging collateral brain tissues.
It is a procedure that can be used on patients who might otherwise not have any treatment possibilities remaining.
It received clearance in the U.S. from the Food and Drug Administration in 2010 and has six installations in place and in use south of the border.
"We finally have the system cleared in Canada. It works great; physicians in the U.S. are very happy," said John Schellhorn, CEO of Monteris.
Schellhorn is reluctant to say more than that about the market potential, other than the company would really like to be able to have an installation in Winnipeg.
Schellhorn and much of the company's sales and marketing people are based in Plymouth, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis. But the company's engineering, software development and technical offices and some of its production operations is still based in its Winnipeg Smartpark location, where it employs 25 to 30 people.
Most CEOs of companies launching new technologies, medical or otherwise, want to get the word out in hopes of increasing awareness, but Schellhorn isn't interested and does not believe it makes any difference. That's not just because Monteris is a private company. (It is owned by Canadian and U.S. venture-capital funds and individuals, including Winnipeg-based Western Life Science Venture Fund and the Business Development Bank of Canada.)
But private ownership may at least facilitate his take on the development of the company.
"We are a small company and we're dealing with a very high-tech product," he said. "As I tell our people, we need to get good at the things we do and let the rest of the market take care of itself."
There are many publicly traded technology companies that have to answer to shareholders every quarter and are envious of Monteris, which does not have to open its books every three months.
But the very nature of the work Monteris is doing does seem to clash with some of the more obviously commercial elements of the public markets.
"We are treating gravely ill patients," Schellhorn said. "We have a technology that appears to be working quite well. Our job is to never stop improving it, never stop listening to the market. I don't like to get too far ahead of myself. In the end, if we do things right, we will become a bigger company."
Monteris was fortunate enough to attract enough venture capital to develop its technology to the point it's at now without having to go to the public markets.
"Fortunately, we have had good and patient investors and they have waited a long time to get to where we are now. It is really our responsibility as management to realize the vision of the technology," Schellhorn said.
That's not to say companies who rely on public-market financing are not as focused on the same things.
But depending on their level of financing, there are always tricky decisions that have to be made.
For instance, Kane Biotech Inc., another small Winnipeg company, just received FDA approval for primary skin-irritation tests for a wound gel spray it is developing.
Among other things, Kane has produced a formulation in combination with an antibiotic that is now being sold as an oral-care product for pets.
The pet-care product is already on the market, and since Kane is such a small company with limited resources, it has to pick its spots. So the development of the wound-care product will likely have to wait.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 4, 2013 A16
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Post-shooting, RCMP tightening PM's security
Woman charged in case of dead infants appears in court
Bombers unveil statue of legendary coach Bud Grant
Selinger says he and Bowman share several priorities
Voter turnout highest in a decade
MPs return to Parliament day after Ottawa shooting
Jets in a better mood after breaking losing streak with Tuesday's win
Beware automakers’ move to block competition
1st Ebola case in W. African nation of Mali
IBM’s dumb deal on smart machines
We’ll stand for freedom and for one another
Manitoba Muslims condemn attacks
Bowman drops by News Café
Folk Fest trims down to four-day event
Shelley Hart new mayor of East St. Paul
Man arrested after vehicles, home damaged
Soldier killed in Parliament Hill siege
Mom of gunman: I cry for victims of shooting
Two arrested after officers assaulted
Blue delighted with state of Denmark
Maples soccer mom charged
Dramatic vigil held for six dead babies
Warm weather likely won't last much longer
From the Middle East to Mexico
Confusing Constantine pilot has potential, but cast change means preview pointless
Keanu Reeves knows his way around a fight scene, whether he's using a sword or a shotgun
The day it all changed
School trustee, municipal elections results
Talk to your kids about the Ottawa shootings
Major league munchies
Coal-rich Poland ready to block EU climate deal
Forensic probe may take months