Assoc. Dr. Tunç Laçin and Assoc. Dr. Gökhan Bora Esmer created a platform using image processing technology with the support they received from TÜBİTAK. This platform makes it possible to remove parts from the lesion around 1 cm detected in the patient's lung. Thus, the disease is diagnosed early and the patient does not have to undergo tomography and endoscopy repeatedly.
Thoracic Surgeon Assoc. Dr. Tunç Laçin and Electrical Electronics Engineer Assoc. Dr. ElaA Tech, founded by Gökhan Bora Esmer, has developed a technology that will not tire patients and reduce diagnosis and treatment costs in cancer treatment. Founding Partner of ElaA Teknoloji, Assoc. Dr. Stating that he used the platform at Marmara University Hospital where he served, Tunç Laçin said, “Thanks to the platform, we determine where the disease is with the tomographic images, and draw the right way to the surgeon and show the right point to the surgeon. And we can say this with an accuracy rate of 98 percent. ”
Assoc. Dr. We talked to Tunç Laçin about the commercialization process and innovations of the project that will break the ground in the health sector, especially cancer diagnoses.
How was the project born out of need, how did the process develop?
I am a faculty member in Chest Surgery at Marmara University School of Medicine and I do lung cancer surgeries. The business idea comes from here. We started the project with the idea of how to make an early diagnosis. As you know, lung tomography is performed first in the diagnosis of cancer and a lesion appears in that tomography. Is that stain cancer? Isn't that right? Because the lesions, which are about a centimeter, are very small, we cannot remove the parts and we cannot see them in endoscopy. We follow the patient and the disease by performing tomography 3-4 times a year. Although the piece grows, we suspect cancer and take the patient to surgery. The pathology examines the part that is removed surgically and makes decisions. If it is not a cancer cell, the patient is operated on for nothing. Cancer, on the other hand, is sometimes late because it is a higher level. Let's make such a system that, as soon as the first tomography was taken, I thought that we would draw a path to the point where the lesion was seen using image processing technologies. My opinion is Assoc. Dr. I shared it with Bora Esmer. He said that we can do it because he is an electrical and electronic engineer. With this project, we applied for TÜBİTAK 1512 support and took a budget of 130 thousand TL and turned the project into a product in two years.
Has the project been commercialized, at what stage?
We started the project in August 2017. In October 2017, we entered the Incubation Center of Teknopark Istanbul. As of September 2019, our project is over and we applied for the CE certificate. When we get the CE certificate, we will be in a position to sell to the whole world. We anticipate that we will be commercialized as of February 2020. In fact, we received an order for 100 patients from a private hospital in Turkey, but we're expecting the CE certificate. When it comes out, this hospital will start using the platform first.
What technology does the product contain?
A cloud-based system that uses image processing technology. With tomography images, we determine where the disease is, and then, with the endoscopy system, we draw the shortest and correct path to the place of the lesion. You can think of it as finding a route using Google and Yandex maps. We say to the surgeon, if you give the patient the needle from this point, you can hit the disease. And we can say that with an accuracy rate of 98 percent. Because the system displays 3D images of the vascular access, the system selects the safest place where the needle will be inserted.
Did you start using the system? Are there similar applications in the world?
Yes, I started using it at the hospital where I worked and 98% accuracy success comes from here. There are three different systems of American origin used in the world. Their accuracy rate remained at 75 percent. In those systems, they place an electromagnetic on the patient, they actually sell a device. We can say that our system consists of an algorithm, software or platform. Because the system works cloud-based, a doctor anywhere in the world offers the doctor the right way to reach the audience that appears on tomography after downloading the system to his computer. Even a doctor in Chile can easily use it by downloading the platform on our website. No extra material or software will be needed. This will enable us to reach doctors all over the world quickly.
Existing systems, no matter how widely used in Turkey and the world?
The three modules currently used are not very common as they are very expensive systems. Turkey is one of the system according to the price of 180 thousand dollars, the other around 350 thousand dollars. There is no reimbursement in healthcare application or payment system. We will work with affordable costs per patient payment system. Because we won't have a device sale. We will install the system to the whole world in this way.
What cost advantage will your system offer to hospitals?
If you wish to answer this in reverse. If patients are diagnosed using the system we developed, according to our calculations, diagnostic costs are reduced by 60 percent. We save the patient from repeated tomographies, and perhaps a vaginal operation and repeated endoscopies. Thus, we do not tire the patients.
Can your system be used outside of lung cancer treatment?
Since this is a platform technology, we can use this technology in any hollow organ. Because we will use airlines. They have endoscopy systems to reach the intestine or prostate. We want to develop the use of this platform in other organ systems as a second business idea.
Why not launch your invention as full body navigation?
If we can find an investor, we plan to launch the product in the form of full body navigation. It's about capital. In our interviews in the international awards ceremony which rewarded, "You in this project, you would get a very substantial investment if you were in the US and would do launch for all body systems," they commented. But Turkey in reaching investors very difficult. We have talked to many major investor in Turkey but all health Certification processes take a long time, they are right, though our process has progressed very quickly, our project has become a product that can obtain CE certification and commercialize in two years. they're seeing tremendous support. But the Turks are very hard to convince investors. investors are looking at different due to being abroad also comes from Turkey.
We actually need an investor to apply to the American market. With the clinical study, the entry of a healthcare product into the American market starts from 500 thousand dollars. We are looking for investors to spread all over the market, including America. In fact, when the sale of the product begins, we can create this capital within two years, but the foreign competitors who see our platform can enter the market by developing different modules of the product. In this respect, we need not only an investor to provide funds, but also an investor who can mentor in marketing strategies during the commercialization process. Technology Development Foundation of Turkey, has confidence in us and provided funding. This support has accelerated our commercialization process and improved our vision.
What market is there in the world, is there any calculated data?
We are now talking about a 500 million dollar market annually with the lung navigation system. Approximately 20 thousand bronchoscopy is performed all over the world. Besides, when we add prostate and colon cancer diagnoses, we see a bigger market. In this respect, we want to commercialize the product in 2020 worldwide and offer it for sale. Currently, our investor negotiations are continuing. If we can get results, we want to open the European office soon.