Ilan Uchitel, CAPS Medical - Spotlight Interview | LSI USA ‘23

CAPS Medical is developing a solution to treat a wide range of solid tumors using Non-thermal Atmospheric Plasma (NTAP).
Ilan Uchitel
Ilan Uchitel
CEO & Co-Founder, CAPS Medical



Nick Talamantes  0:00  

Ilan, thank you so much for joining me in the LSI studio. 


Ilan Uchitel  0:17  

Thank you for having me.


Nick Talamantes  0:18  

Tell me a little bit about what you're doing Caps Medical,


Ilan Uchitel  0:20  

you know, the cancer claims over one and a half million lives each year. And all the existing cancer therapies strive to do the same thing. They want to maximize damage to the tumor, while minimizing damage to the healthy juices surrounding. The deeper you get inside the body, the more elusive the target gets, and eventually, the vital tissue is being damaged through this procedure. It comes to medical, we have developed technology that can selectively and very precisely target the tumor without damaging the healthy tissue surrounding it to mimic the basic procedures. By that we can actually eliminate many of the live side effects of the technologies.


Nick Talamantes  1:01  

Tell me how are you minute using minimally invasive technologies to selectively destroy tumors.


Ilan Uchitel  1:07  

So our proprietary technology is called NTAP. And it's based on non thermal atmospheric plasma, which is a stream of an ionized gas, which we deliver directly to the tumor. So we're taking a helium, we're passing it through a very specific magnetic field, and we get him a string, which is actually quite was quite pleasant to touch, you can actually with your own hands, it doesn't cost it doesn't ablate it doesn't cause any thermal or other damage to the healthy tissue. This dream generates what is called reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. From this point on, for biologists, it's really straightforward for me it was to try to understand Yeah, this reactive species actually can selectively generate stress only to cancer cells. It mostly relates to the cancer structure and its ability to integrate with its environment. Once the general distress the cells is back to the base to program itself demise. So they go through a cascade of what is called a pre programmed cell death and apoptosis. And that process cascades in effect in vivo, in which the immune response is specifically targeting similar cells. So basically, it didn't identify as a cancer cell before. But once this process process begins, the immune system knows that there's a tumor there, and I know how to trim eliminated and then it goes in specifically goes deep into the inside the tissue, and specifically target similar cells in the surrounding areas. So basically, once you get your device near the tumor, you can only apply the treatment to proficiently, and the effect will propagate deep inside the tissue and eliminate every cancer cells in the area.


Nick Talamantes  2:45  

So how exactly is that possible? Is it through a electrophoresis?


Ilan Uchitel  2:51  

actually, electrophoresis is a process which destroys all type of cells, so this is different, this is different. And the benefit here of CAPS Medical. And I'm really glad you asked this question is that this is actually the only technology out there that works like a selective drug through a medical device, and with the costs associated with a medical device in the developing blank. So we're actually using a device a catheter, which is introduced, we're working channel with minimally invasive tool, it generates this plasma field near the tumor, and elicits in an environment which is toxic to the tumor, but it's benign to everything else. And from this point on, we let the body to heal himself because we are triggering the fact that marks the tumor for the immune system. So at the end of the treatment, the tumor is still there. But but you know, it, that's how we're working. Just it's just what is just that just dies off after a period of several months. And we have demonstrated in a very successful clinical study, which will, I believe will be discussed. And just to make sure you know, the the use of non thermal plasma, incidentally, destroying cancer cells has been around for many, many years. It has been used for decades for other treatments like wound healing, and additional modalities. And for the past 15 years, it has been extensively used to selectively target cancer cells by several companies out there. The problem is that the existing devices on the market today because of very high energy requirements resulting being just too large to be used inside the body. Unfortunately, this is where most of the tumors are. And this is exactly the breakthrough of CAPS Medical. So our proprietary technology basically allows us for the first time to generate the selective attic treatment is a typical flexible small diameter catheter. So now we can come to a standard procedure room. In the same way the doctors are used to minimally invasively access the tumor without changing anything. They're accessing it the same way they used to do with existing tools. We're just using it as a highway to get to the tumor and then instead of resetting, cutting a blade in and doing all the damage they don't want to inflict the just apply I in a very benign procedure, completely painless by the way we use it on our hands without even you know, it takes us a little bit maybe quite pleasant for a defined period of time. And that's it. And the rest is leaving the body to heal itself until the tumor is gone.


Nick Talamantes  5:17  

You mentioned that plasma energy has been around. It's been used in medicine before but you guys are sort of unlocked a secret. Is that too much of a secret to share with us? 


Ilan Uchitel  5:26  

No, no, not at all? I think they do. Yeah, we're proud of our achievements. And I think you asked a question, we should basically queue innovation. What did you think about something that nobody else thought before? And the answer is, I wasn't the one who talked about this, because he was originally developed by a group of very bright scientists in the Israeli Technion and rombo Medical Center, the largest medical center in the north of Israel, who came together with an objective to find a minimally invasive solution that can target tumors endoscopically, they look around, they saw this amazing technology called non thermal plasma. And they said, Okay, let's see what the limitation is. limitation is that they are working like any other physiological devices without limitation where they generate a lot of energy, and then try to spread out to cool it down, we can do that we need to come in touch with the body, we're increasing fluids, where have so much restrictions that existing surgical therapies just can't get away, let's find a concept in which we will do just the thing, but we'll do it perfectly. So this design was initially designed to do one thing to indiscriminately deliver non thermal plasma, then an engineer account based recovering engineer, like I mentioned, I have a technical background, but I've been in a medical device field for the last 15 years, basically doing all possible position, the crowded operation and commercial, a spectrum of executive positions in the company. And identify the opportunity, I teamed up with an amazing team of engineers and scientists working with caps today. And we took this basic idea, which basically allows to very efficiently generate energy that can be delivered through very narrow conductors, then we just repeat it again. And we turned out to be to have the device we have on hand today.


Nick Talamantes  7:19  

Tell me about how that's now being applied in human research, as you're talking about earlier.


Ilan Uchitel  7:25  

In our first of its kind of multicenter clinical study, we have treated over 35 tumors across 20 patients in suffering from a very nice disease called non muscle invasive bladder cancer, also known as NIBC. Actually, an NIBC is a disease of the whole bladder which repeals is a tumors which pop out throughout the patient's lifetime. There are all over one and a half million patients suffering from the disease worldwide. This is the sixth most common cancer in the world. And what's our characteristic about it, that is just doesn't go away. It's been treated and retreated by resecting, the tumor by procedure call to RBT, in which the letter is damaged, and then complementing the study by a series of very painful and present inter vesicle installations. And still, they get 80% recurrence rate, which means eight out of 10 patients that tumor returns. So in our clinical study, we have replaced this painful and damaging resection by single treatment will we introduce our device through standard Stethescope, which is the endoscope used to accept the better weight paying the tumor with our with a non thermal plasma. And then we would come back three weeks from the procedure. In 98% of cases the tumor was gone. The only thing was it wasn't gonna just shrank and was resected for further integration. But it crosses procedure. Unlike the standard of care, we've seen no perforations no bleeding, the bladder wall remains so much intact, it was very difficult for us to even find the place where it was applied. A so we preserved a lot of betters a hopefully down the road, we will prove additional things rather than ressecting because it's not the only advantage of the technology. It's not only ressecting with less side effects. We are working today to get this device even smaller. So it can be applied through tooling use in outpatient setup. So instead of using anesthesia, which is used, by the way only to apply the endoscope, the procedure set was painless. But by getting device smaller, we can use actually tooling which can be applied into the bladder without anesthesia at all. So the patients who are usually coming to the doctor's office today, they're only inspected if there was a tumor there, they've been referred to the center. Instead of that they will come to the office that will be inspected if they find the tumor, which they will because this is a very recurrent disease. They just do it didn't place the guest reimburse for it, which is great. The patients don't have to go through anesthesia doesn't suffer for pain, or bleeding and return to completely functional life, several hours following the procedure, in everybody's happy he comes back several months later, they find another tumor, which is unfortunate, but it will happen eventually, that will be the game. And the whole procedure goes over and over. And the most important thing is that the bladder wall remains intact, it remains functional, there is no scarring, there's no perforation, there's no risk, or rehospitalization. We have to remember, most of the patients aren't young athletes. Most of them are with older population who doesn't suffer through anesthesia very well. And we're looking to to evaluate in the future. Now once this device has been widely used, we will be also able to follow the data and see what our immune response is actually doing to reduce the recurrence rate, and to reduce the disease progression, which today stands at approximately 30% of this low grade tumors being progressed to something much more violent, much more aggressive. If we can prove that, then it will change the whole way the solid tumors are treated. And this is only an NIBC we have to remember. While while there are over 90 million new cases this case occurs is covered worldwide, over a wide range of solid tumors or tumors in general. And today based on our preclinical study, none of the tested human cell lines showed any kind of resistance to enter treatment, which means that NIBC is our leading indication to them this will be our indication, initial commercial indication. But this is only the beachhead for us. We already have demonstrated our ability to deliver this technology, in lungs in airways in other modalities for inside the esophagus in the stomach, in the GI tract in large animal models, obviously. But combined with the preclinical data that was gathered through biological research, we only need to deliver and by the way, it uses more or less the same tool that be useful for bladder cancer. So the r&d effort there will be relatively relatively small after we complete our setting up for commercialization of the initial device. But the clinical applications are endless.


Nick Talamantes  12:19  

Those clinical results in NIBC are extremely promising and it sounds like this technology is going to offer a lot of hope not just to those patients, but to patients with other solid tumor cancers, as you mentioned, Safa geo, lung, are you guys able to get into those tumors and treat those


Ilan Uchitel  12:38  

so you know, one of the challenges of being a CEO of an early stage company, is to keep your focus because you want to do everything share every we have spoken with hundreds of doctors from different disciplines. And the meeting is always ended the same way. This is amazing. I want to do it. It's very lucrative for us to to spread our energy around, but we have to focus laser focus on donation indication. And just remember, for NIBC alone, there are more than 500,000 patients suffering from the disease in the US alone. So our progress moving forward consists of several considerations. Obviously, our main effort today goes into the NIBC project. But the technology, which is developed today has to do almost no adaptation for five to six different types of cancer to start working with them immediately. And this is actually what we're doing early feasibility studies in parallel, in addition to that small minification will allow us to get to smaller and deeper tumors. For example, let's take lungs for example. So, the same device will allow us to cover the majority of lung. The device which we develop for their outpatient setup, where I was to cover the whole lung so it's kind of a worker process like every other device we will go forward and improve and the indication we will choose will be derived from very simple factors we need to find we need to address a very clear unmet need a with a large market we can also utilize our potential with and with the right partner who is active in this market and can help us out because this is actually where we are today. So the company is now a raising funds to step into our next level which will be pivotal study which will could happen here in the US aiming for go to the conference now with ecologists proven we're tackling they're good theory clearances in us in Europe, in China, in Japan and in other developing in anything developing countries as well. And this will require some time for us together. Now we're not gonna wait and in sit and wait until the study is completed. A we do this for the initial indication. But meanwhile, we're progressing all the pipeline to catch up. So once we hit the market running we're already have will already have several indications waiting to be introduced in the same similar way. And like I've mentioned, there are several clinical studies for visibility for other cancers already taking shape and form to be executed once we find the timings right. And the right, the right partner joins our company in the next funding round, which is currently ongoing.


Nick Talamantes  15:25  

There are other technologies today, apart from RF ablation, which has been around for a long time that had been used to treat solid tumors, for lack of a better word of pulsed field ablation comes to mind Aqua ablation comes to mind, how does your technology compared to some of these other energy sources that are being developed today or use today even to treat solid tumors?


Ilan Uchitel  15:50  

This is a great question. And you know, I wish there were so few cancer types that will only need one technology to treat them all. But the main advantage in caps medical over everything that exists today from a rock per se, without a blade, we don't destroy, once you destroy, you will destroy the good cells with the bad cells. Some of these technologies can preserve several structures, but eventually you will still be limited by not ablating, the healthy tissue. And this is where Caps Medical comes in play. You don't have to be selective, you don't have to be precise. A you don't have to put the needle through tumor, a if something superficial, and it sits in a critical organ, like an airway, like a major blood vessel, you can technically you can apply other modalities, but you will damage everything around you. Here you don't have to be precise and in fight every single cell and make sure you take it all out, you cover the whole area. And the technology will focus on the cancer cell that it needs to distract. In other advantage is that the manual skills required to use this procedure. Don't fall outside of the toolkit of doctors who are working with other modalities. Today, we're not bringing any new requirements to the table, we're not changing the access to the tumor, we're not changing the treatment length or procedure. We're just making it simpler when he's already there. And we see it in our clinical study, we have doctors who have never tried to use to RBT resection before, really, you know, residents who have just joined our primary investigator deck in the building on hand in performing the procedure from a first round with a very simple indication because it's very, very intuitive. The console itself, it takes off your device we're used to working today, you only need to set the treatment time and press the lever and the cost will do the rest. It will monitor the pressure it will monitor the amount of energy delivered to the tumor, it will count your time it will notify you if something is wrong, you need to get closer it will tell you to get closer you need to get farther away from the tumor, it will get to tell you to get farther away. It's very intuitive. And you really just to have to understand what is the tissue you want to treat in a general sense. And you can really do really little damage with that


Nick Talamantes  18:17  

Israel is becoming a major hub for medtech in the world. Could you speak a little bit about what is enabling this innovation to emerge and thrive in the country?


Ilan Uchitel  18:28  

Well, first of all, thank you for flattering us. I think it's not the only ecosystem that results in a lot of innovation. There are several has worldwide, I think the common factor in all of them is the proximity and the interaction between the different parts. I can give you an example of walking around down the halls. And I think that I'm familiar with that majority of the faces both from Israel and from outside. Medtech is a very narrow space which leans on the same talent. And when the talents are five minutes drive one from the other. And Israel is a small country. It flew for at pervert excellence, it pushed you towards you know, accelerate, you have somebody to lean on, there's a lot of commonality and you sit around both in crisises. And in perforation, a. Obviously, there's a lot of ego around like in any other industry. But eventually when you need somebody to step in and help you out. It will be very easy to find this person and in Israel. You know everybody you know exactly what who to reach out. Many of our entrepreneurs are serial entrepreneurs who have done that before and are willing to share their experience to help you not fall into the same pits as they have fallen before. So I think a dimensional results in the environment which is very tolerable to try out new things even if they not all succeed for the first time. A there's something we by the way, very much implement in our company as well. We urge people to try things out, obviously, before they get them into the clinical studies, but this is how you get innovation, you have to try out several times not to be afraid to fail and expand your boundaries. You asked me for how can you think of this and nobody else did. Many people will work it out that the question is, how far are we willing to go with that, and how much sacrifice you're willing to take to get to this point. And apparentley, for us, it's, it's a bit more than for other sectors. But again, we're not the only ones there, there are amazing innovators out there. From all over the world.


Nick Talamantes  20:35  

You know, it is certainly important to have a strong network to rely on, it's great that you guys are a part of one. Are there other strategic partners that you're currently working with? Maybe on the clinical side, or in the business development side of things,


Ilan Uchitel  20:50  

we're so actually we have a strategic strategic plan involved with CAPS Medical, from its inception, a we were incepted, in one of the covers of all of the larger players. And we have been tapping on this resource of endless professionals, helping us focusing on this first indication, pointing us in the right directions, and helping us avoiding going into niches, which seem to be very lucrative, but may not be as useful when we get to the market. Now, as part of a funding round, were approached by many strategics were actually introduced approaches by several of them, a who are looking at this technology from the from different angles, one looked at it from a bad cancer experience other looks into from for lung cancer, a but eventually the selling point the same. Today, the technology of discovering the tumors has evolved so much that you rarely see these golf sized balls used to see five days ago, the tumors are usually small, that discovered early on. And they demand a solution, which can remove the small tumor without damaging the whole body around it. And this is exactly where CAPS Medical solution comes in play.


Nick Talamantes  22:10  

It must be incredibly rewarding then to be a part of the development of this technology that so many players probably a lot of patients are extremely interested to follow the progress and hear about your continued success as you move this technology to the market. And to into new indications.


Ilan Uchitel  22:27  

Definitely, I think that for medical device, in general, it's very easy to find the purpose to what you're doing. For cancer treatment, it's the easiest thing to do. And we see it in our clinical studies. So initially, we decided to treat each patient only once, because we know the disease will eventually come back in other locations, hopefully, which actually happens because none of the 3d tumors has returned. But the tumors will appear in another location. So we said let's begin and just let's see how this progresses, looking forward to what we're going to do next. And then 5 6 7 8 9 15 patients in with a time passing and some tumors appear in other locations, the patients are coming back to the doctor and say we don't want to go resection anymore. After we've tried this one, I get home the same day. I didn't suffer from all the terrible side effects. And since I know that it will come back anyway later. I don't want to be rejected anymore. So we actually came back and amended the protocol to allow us to the same patients in other locations. A as part of a clinical study. And actually we have several relative few but we have a few of these patients undergoing several procedures for different tumors each time because they no longer wanted to suffer that what standard of care has to offer today.


Nick Talamantes  23:42  

It's an amazing improvement to the quality of life for these patients certainly


Ilan Uchitel  23:45  

and for the doctors because a suffering patient is eventually coming back to his doctor and he wants a solution. He points fingers. This is the nature of the disease. The doctor does the best job you can but this is the cancer it will come back


Nick Talamantes  24:00  

Ilan I want to thank you so much for joining me in the studio and telling me about the work you're doing a capsule. 


Ilan Uchitel  24:04  

Thank you so much for having me. A It was a pleasure and it was a great venue and a great platform to meet with all the players and strategics in one place.


Nick Talamantes  24:15  

The pleasure is all ours. Thank you so much


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