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Innovative Platform Technology for the Detection of Cancer

The NovaScan MarginScan device for margin detection in Mohs procedures for skin cancer

Cancer is one of the biggest health concerns in the world.  In the United States in 2015 alone, almost 600,000 people died from the various forms of cancer.  As a cause of death, cancer is second only to heart disease.  According to the National Cancer Institute, 39.6% of people will develop cancer at some point in their lives.  The prevalence of cancer and its devastating effects fuel the continuous efforts of medical science to improve the accuracy, efficiency, and success rates of cancer treatments. NovaScan LLC is a company that is working to make an impact in this universal endeavor.

NovaScan, an oncology diagnostics firm founded by a former dean of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Engineering and Applied Science, has developed an innovative technology platform that improves upon many aspects of cancer detection.  NovaScan developed this technology and in partnership with WiSys, has made strides in its clinical development ever since.  NovaScan’s platform is based upon their identification and unique utilization of the Cole relaxation frequency, an impedance parameter that increases three orders of magnitude as cancer develops and advances. The dramatic increase allows for an extremely accurate diagnostics that forego the added size, complexity, and cost of alternative margin detection technologies.

The Cole relaxation frequency (charted above by both lines) makes cancerous cells much more distinguishable from non-cancerous cells compared to other impedance parameters.

NovaScan’s business model is to develop and market MarginScan, their product for margin detection during Mohs procedures for skin cancer, and to collaborate with larger companies for other applications. Pioneered by Wisconsin physician Frederic Mohs, Mohs surgery is a procedure for treating skin cancer in which cancer is removed layer (stage) by stage and frozen section histological assessments completed on each stage, while the patient remains in the chair. Mohs surgeries continue until the surgeon verifies that cancer free margin is obtained everywhere. Mohs procedures have best in class results (recurrence is around 1% for Mohs, vs. 10% or more for other treatment modalities) and Mohs procedures result in the smallest scarring of all procedures. However, since the histological assessments can take forty minutes or more and since they may be repeated multiple times during a procedure, Mohs procedures can take a very long time. MarginScan changes all of this. When MarginScan is used in Mohs procedures, much of time and resource consuming frozen section evaluations are replaced with Cole frequency assessments that take only seconds to complete. As a result, patients can get home faster, surgeons can treat more patients, and more patients can in turn get less expensive, best in class procedures.

Per above, NovaScan’s technology is a platform technology for cancer detection. NovaScan has extremely attractive data post lumpectomy (sensitivity of 100% and specificity of 85% in more than 350 patients; this data improves to 100% and 99% when NovaScan’s current software is employed) and in mammography (sensitivity and specificity are both 100% in a trial of 50 patients). The company has also discovered that the value of the Cole frequency within the cancerous range is strongly correlated with outcomes; NovaScan will be publishing on this point. NovaScan has been contacted by and is in advancing discussions with multiple large device companies about incorporating this technology into their devices.

“We see NovaScan as a company that can transform the treatment of skin cancer – the most common cancer in the world – but also as one that can improve the detection and treatment of many types of cancers” reports NovaScan CEO Craig Davis. “Our technology doesn’t require anything but an electrode set proximal to tissue, and can be easily integrated into surgical tools. I can see a world a few years from now where NovaScan’s technology dramatically improves outcomes for a wide range of cancer surgeries.”

Craig also is passionate about the value WiSys Technology Foundation has played in the development of this technology platform. “WiSys has been invaluable here. This is a disruptive and potentially impactful technology platform that has taken years to gestate. WiSys has been a valuable partner throughout. I am quite confident that NovaScan would not be where it is today without their support."