Verisante Technology Inc. is committed to helping save lives through the commercialization of innovative systems for the detection of cancer. The company's initial focus is skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Verisante has licensed a technology developed by the BC Cancer Agency for in vivo, real-time, noninvasive skin measurements. This platform technology may also be applied to detection systems for other types of cancer including lung, gastrointestinal, colorectal and cervical cancers.
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"The Aura technology uses what's called Raman spectroscopy, named after C.V. Raman, who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1930. A laser is used to determine the biochemical composition of the tissue, which is then compared to a database. The technology has racked up a number of awards in the last few years. The beauty of the skin cancer market is that, as far as detection goes with a device, the market is virtually untapped. Verisante is one of two companies with a marketed device for skin cancer detection.
"The company is Mela Sciences Inc. (MELA:NASDAQ). Verisante's device looks very competitive [compared to Mela Science's Inc.'s MelaFind device]. . .it looks like Verisante's Aura is superior in accuracy and is certainly much faster, which is important if clinicians want to be able to do full body scans. Verisante's technology is also potentially applicable in other cancers, such as lung and oral cancers, which are derivative applications that Verisante is looking at. . .at this point it's still not clear exactly how FDA will treat the Aura in terms of a regulatory pathway, but if the agency does not characterize it as a substantially equivalent device to MelaFind, then, yes, Verisante will likely have to pursue FDA approval via PMA. . .it is realistic to assume that the Aura can be approved in the U.S."
"Verisante's skin cancer device, called Aura, is game-changing technology for dermatologists. Yet the company's share price is low and its market cap is about $20M. One reason for the undervaluation is that the skin cancer detection instrument has not yet been approved by the FDA. The firm is talking to consultants about how to best get its device into the regulatory approval system. That can be a big challenge for a small company. A device may be approved in Canada, Europe, Japan and China, but the big market is the U.S., and that requires FDA approval."
"There is only one other device on the market that's of significance in terms of competition. . .but Verisante's technology looks to be more accurate, which is very important. It also has a number of other significant advantages, one being that it's much faster—you can scan a whole body rapidly. The U.S. market is a goal, but it's probably down the road, after some U.S.-based studies are done. Verisante's game plan is to roll the Aura out overseas first, to help finance the U.S. studies."
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