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Jul 28, 2021 09:32 AM EDT

Dr. Simon Stertzer Joins Advisory Board of Avenda Health, Supporting A Significant Breakthrough In The Treatment of Prostate Cancer


Dr. Simon Stertzer Joins Advisory Board of Avenda Health, Supporting A Significant Breakthrough In The Treatment of Prostate Cancer

(Photo : Dr. Simon Stertzer Joins Advisory Board of Avenda Health, Supporting A Significant Breakthrough In The Treatment of Prostate Cancer)

Dr. Simon Stertzer, Emeritus professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Stanford, has invested in the future of prostate cancer treatment by joining the Medical Advisory Board of Avenda Health. 

Dr. Stertzer is lending his decades of expertise in novel therapy introduction by advising and supporting the California based private healthcare technology company, Avenda Health. The team of innovators at Avenda are led by Dr. S. Natarajan, CEO, Dr. L. Marks, Chair of Urology at UCLA, and Dr. B. Pusey who are collaborating to bring a new therapy to the market that could improve the lives of millions of prostate cancer sufferers. Dr. Stertzer's joining the advisory board of a Urological speciality company underscores his recognition of the breakthrough nature of this treatment.

Dr. Simon Stertzer's History of Innovation

Simon H. Stertzer, MD has established a career long history of association with medical Innovation. Dr. Stertzer has been a pioneer interventional cardiologist who is responsible for developing treatments that have saved countless lives. Dr. Stertzer performed the first coronary balloon angioplasty in the United States in New York, in 1978. Dr. Simon Stertzer also developed the first FDA approved sheathless implantable stent along with engineers Michael Boneau and Robert Lashinski in the late nineties.

Dr. Simon Stertzer's collaborative efforts with healthtech industry evolved into several important interventional startups:

  • Arterial Vascular Engineering- producer of angioplasty balloon and stent (acquired by Medtronic,Inc)

  • Quanam Medical Corporation - which produced drug delivery stents (later acquired by Boston Scientific, Inc)

  • BioCardia®, Inc. - a cardiovascular stem cell/biotechnology company, in a Phase 3 clinical stem cell trial for heart failure which is currently ongoing..

Outside of his collaborations in the healthtech industry, Dr. Stertzer has also shown a commitment to innovation when it comes to the education of the next generation of medical professionals. According to one bio: "In 1993, Dr. Simon Stertzer was recruited to Stanford University's School of Medicine, as Professor of Medicine, by Dr. Victor J. Dzau, currently President at the National Academy of Medicine. Dr. Stertzer has 2 named professorships at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Simon Stertzer is now Professor Emeritus at Stanford and has 3 named professorships at the Stanford University School of Medicine, including the latest one created in December of 2020: the Professorship held by the Chair of the Division Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine, Dr. Eldrin F. Lewis, formally of the Brigham Hospital and the Harvard School of Medicine." Dr. Stertzer, in his role as Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, still supports the Cardiovascular Institute (lead by Dr. J. Wu) and the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine (now led by Dr Eldrin F. Lewis, formerly of Harvard Medical School). 

Along with his knowledge and expertise, it is his commitment to innovation in the healthcare industry that Dr. Stertzer brings with him to his advisory role with Avenda Health. 

Avenda Health - Revolutionizing Prostate Cancer Therapy

Traditional therapies for prostate cancer can have devastating effects on patients including urinary, bowel, and sexual dysfunction. Avenda Health has been developing a new and critically more targeted therapy that can ensure less patient discomfort and almost immediate recovery. The Avenda technology may avoid hospital admission, general anesthesia, and provide outpatient office therapy for most prostate cancers. Better post treatment outcome for patients can help many overcome the fear of losing quality of life after prostate cancer surgeries.

Typical treatments for prostate cancer include radical surgery, unsatisfactory hormonal therapy, and /or no therapy: just nervous watchful waiting. None of these options are ideal for the majority of prostate cancer patients who have demonstrated disease, but no evidence of metastatic spread. These options can also negatively affect sexual performance and desire, as well as cause urinary complications. With Avenda's revolutionary treatments, those functions can be preserved.

Avenda's technology is backed by a decade of research by the National Cancer Institute. Laser ablation has been used in many types of cancer therapy, but Avenda has re-imagined the process by combining ablation with machine learning to create patient specific treatment plans which may be performed under minimal anaesthesia in a urologist's office. Trials to confirm the effectiveness are currently in the works.

As of May 2021, Avenda's technology has been granted a "Breakthrough Device" designation by the FDA. The FDA gives this designation to devices that have the potential to provide more effective treatment or diagnosis of life threatening or disability causing diseases and conditions. The Breakthrough Device Program expedites the process of getting cutting edge medical technology into the hands of healthcare providers and patients who can benefit from them. It does this while maintaining the standards required for approval. Following FDA approval, it will also enable Medicare reimbursement for the technology.

In a press release, Brit Berry-Pusey (co-founder and COO of Avenda) said: "The FDA has not approved a new device for the treatment of localized prostate cancer in more than 40 years. We look forward to working closely with the FDA to bring our product to market so that patients no longer need to choose between treating their prostate cancer and preserving their quality of life."

This designation was granted after a phase 1 trial with 10 patients demonstrated the product and its safety, with no declines in urinary or sexual function noted.

How Avenda's Therapies Work

The Avenda Orion Health System is currently conducting trials as it seeks FDA approval. The system starts by using a patient's MRI and biopsy information to predict cancer margins. Then a treatment plan is created to inform a urologist where to insert the laser fiber for guided ablation therapy. That treatment plan is then downloaded into an Avenda workstation, which allows doctors to monitor tissue temperatures and treatment progress in real-time. The urologist then navigates to each ablation site under ultrasound guidance, and inserts the laser needle and

sensor. The laser needle then gently heats the tissue to 60°C and causes coagulation necrosis.

On top of minimizing the impact to healthy tissue and preserving the patient's urinary and sexual function, this therapy is also done under only local anesthesia. This means that the patient can

walk in for office treatment and walk out right after, allowing them to go about their day. The process is similar to getting a routine colonoscopy in that way. Radiation, radical surgery, hormones, and or fearful waiting may someday soon be replaced by guided focal therapy for the majority of cancer patients world-wide.

Conclusion: A Legacy Of Innovation and Collaboration

Avenda is developing revolutionary medical technologies that will improve the lives of cancer patients. These innovative treatments are on the cutting edge of medical science, and help to pave the way for a better medical future for patients worldwide. As the Orion System nears closer to approval and continues through trials, we can look forward to more exciting news and developments that will allow patients to benefit from the technologies being created by this innovative company.

Dr. Simon Stertzer has built his career on medical innovation, and his continuing dedication to investing in the future helps to cement this legacy. Dr. Stertzer's investment and his position on the Board of Advisors to Avenda is proof of his commitment to helping push the cutting edge of medicine forward. Dr. Stertzer will continue to look forward towards the future of medicine and invest in companies such as Avenda, who are bringing these new technologies to life.

As Avenda works to improve the lives of prostate cancer patients, they will have an enthusiastic supporter in Dr. Simon Stertzer. This is a collaboration that will allow Avenda to benefit from Dr. Stertzer's experience, and will allow patients to benefit from the technology being developed. 

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