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  • 3 Questions with Thomas Braun

May 2013
Thomas Braun, Verisante Technology Inc.

Thomas Braun is having a good year. He’s president and CEO of Verisante Technology Inc. of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, which won the 2013 Prism Award in the Life Sciences and Biophotonics category for Aura, its Raman spectroscopy-based skin cancer detection device; the first nine production units are currently being placed in clinics across Canada and Europe. The device also was a finalist for the Edison Awards, the winners of which were to be announced April 25, too late for inclusion in this issue. BioPhotonics caught up with Braun.

Q: What are you (and your company) working on right now?

Braun: Verisante Aura … will help automate the current diagnostic process, speed up scanning and improve patient outcomes. After many years of research, development and testing of the highest scientific caliber, it is very gratifying to see this lifesaving device in use for patients. Besides securing an exclusive Canadian distributor, we have also entered into exclusive distribution agreements with Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Nordic countries and the Benelux region. We are confident that Aura will receive early and widespread adoption globally.

Q: What are the implications of this project/work?

Braun: Skin cancer is on the rise globally, yet there is a significant shortage of dermatologists, especially in North America. For example, in the US, there are 9500 dermatologists, or about one for every 34,000 people. Therefore, there is an immediate need for an effective skin cancer detection device that will save dermatologists time and help them screen for skin cancer.

Aura is the only device that detects all major skin cancers. In under a second, it provides immediate and accurate results, and the peace of mind that goes with it. According to the clinical study results published last year in the peer-reviewed journal Cancer Research, Aura has a success rate of 99 percent in accurately ruling out skin cancer and the potential to reduce unnecessary biopsies by 50 to 100 percent, which can help many patients avoid disfiguring scars. More importantly, the clinical study results also showed that Aura reduces the rate of missed cancers, including melanoma.

The device will not only help save lives, but also reduce health care costs by speeding up diagnosis and reducing unnecessary biopsies.

Q: What’s the next step?

Braun: We plan to announce many more sales across Canada and Europe in the next little while. We will continue to invest in raising awareness about Aura and communicating its benefits through numerous channels, including trade shows on both sides of the Atlantic, direct mail, advertising [and] via the Aura microsite, and we will also work closely with our distributors to amplify marketing efforts.

The market for Aura is large and growing, and over the next five years will include general practitioners, dermatologists, community health care facilities, and hospitals in the EU, Canada and the US. The platform technology behind Aura is fully extensible to detection systems for other common cancers. Verisante Core uses an endoscopic attachment to aid in the detection of lung, colon, cervical and other cancers.

The clinical study for lung cancer detection has already been completed on over 400 patients, and the results indicate that Core could set a new standard for the early detection of lung cancer. The clinical study for colon cancer has begun.

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