In March 2020, Jeff Levine, CEO of Advanced Scanners, and his colleagues completed their first potentially life-saving trial on a brain cancer patient, launching the next phase of their technology development and leading the way to future clinical trials. That success lasted four days, until COVID-19 hit the U.S. and halted the Advanced Scanners team in their innovative tracks.
But as with everything Advanced Scanners touches, success laid on the horizon. The team was able to successfully raise $1.5 million in investment dollars during the pandemic. Now they can continue their work and are just now able to get back up and running to continue building their state-of-the-art technology. Founded in 2017, Advanced Scanners is a privately held IP and Innovation company creating a machine vision platform based on their uniquely capable 3D optical scanning technology to help neurosurgeons navigate complex procedures.
Advanced Scanners is a tenant alumnus that got its start working on technology at Temple Health and Bioscience District (THBD). The company’s optical data platform set out to tackle a serious, but often unaddressed, issue that arises during surgery: the problem of brain shift. Neurosurgeons rely on a surgical navigation system to help them find and treat disease within the brain. The problem is that these systems rely on static preoperative images that do not track the brain patient anatomy as it moves during surgery. Surgeons rely on their own intuition and mental calculations in real-time to adjust the preoperative plan. This can lead to patient injuries and less desirable surgical outcomes. There had to be a better way. Co-founders Aaron Bernstein, PhD and Jeff Levine have been working ever since to tackle the problem of brain shift, which has led them to apply their technology to address other intraoperative problems, including cancer tissue detection.
Advanced Scanners’ I/Ox Scanner offers a viable solution to alleviate physician and patient distress with high-resolution, real-time 3D data and optical analysis. The tool captures the shape and position of tissue with pinpoint accuracy and alerts the surgical team of changes that affect the operation in progress. This is not only applicable for those undergoing neurosurgery for epilepsy, but with this technology, they are now discovering ways to detect cancer tissue.
“As we look at the brain, for example, we can differentiate what we’re looking at with sub-millimeter accuracy,” explains Levine. “Our scanner allows us to differentiate cancer from white matter or grey matter. The data we’re collecting matches published data on what these different types of cancers look like and can show a surgical team whether they in fact did remove all of the cancer in a patient.”
Grateful to Temple
The process of developing this technology has been underway at THBD since 2018, when Advanced Scanners won first place in the Grow Your Startup From the Ground Up conference pitch competition at THBD’s annual symposium.
“THBD was the first place to buy in, help, and support us,” says Levine. “The $25,000 grant we received from THBD allowed us to conduct a cadaver study and present material to the Epilepsy Foundation where we won $150,000 in funding to continue what they referred to as, ‘the most important technical achievement’ in helping epilepsy patients.”
The Future is Bright
When the pandemic mandated an indefinite pause on clinical trials, the Advanced Scanners team pivoted to focus on technology development and refinement. Eighteen months later and with the green light provided by widespread distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, the team is ready to resume three clinical trials on brain and spinal surgery patients. Successful completion of these trials will lead to the company’s goal of getting to market by 2022.
While Levine can empathize with individuals and professionals who put their dreams on hold as addressing the COVID-19 global health emergency took center stage, he is grateful to his early supporters, those at the Temple Health and Bioscience District who have provided a platform to not only tackle neurosurgery for pediatric epilepsy, but also the detection of cancer tissue. To learn more about Advanced Scanners’ cutting-edge technology, visit advancedscanners.com. Learn more about THBD’s current tenants and the life-saving technology being developed in Temple at templebioscience.org.