Published April 20, 2010
Volume 18, Number 4

NeoTract Gears Up to Market Its First BPH Treatment Product in Europe 
New Device Could Bring Relief to 500 Million Men Worldwide with Prostate Malady

NeoTract president and CEO Chris Rowland with the company’s
BPH treatment device.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

Acronyms abound in any conversation about NeoTract, Inc., a start-up medical device manufacturer, which has all its facilities—lab, production, offices—in Hacienda. Among the most common abbreviations are BPH, Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia; LUTS, lower urinary tract symptoms; and TURP, transurethral resection of the prostate. The company is slowly elevating its profile as it prepares for the marketing and commercialization of its first product in Europe in the second half of this year.

NeoTract will soon introduce a new, minimally invasive treatment for BPH, a major advance in the battle against one of the most common medical conditions affecting men as they age.

“It’s a compelling story,” remarks President and CEO Chris Rowland, who was brought on board last November as the company turned a corner in the approval process. “Initially, NeoTract’s target is BPH, benign tissue growth that causes the prostate glad to expand, squeezing off the urethra, the tube that drains urine from the body. It is not a fatal condition, but for many men it causes bothersome urinary symptoms and can become a serious quality-of-life issue.”  At first, when symptoms are mild, doctors put patients on “watchful waiting.” But when watchful waiting is no longer appropriate, men are faced with limited treatment options.

One common remedy is medical therapy. “We’ve all seen the drugs promoted on television—they’ve become big business,” Rowland notes. “About 50 to 75 percent of men opt to try medication, but not all men get adequate relief. Some men cannot tolerate the side effects and end up discontinuing the drugs.”

The alternative is the invasive surgical procedure known as TURP, in which excess prostate tissue is cored out. “Its effectiveness is the gold standard,” Rowland says, “but it has drawbacks associated with surgically removing prostate tissue: an uncomfortable healing period, not getting symptom relief right away, the need for general anesthesia, the cost of hospitalization, a long recovery… There is very little in between that is perhaps as effective for pharmaceutical non-responders, but not as traumatic as TURP.”

NeoTract’s contribution bridges that gap. The product is the UroLift® system, a surgical device that directly opens the urethra in order to relieve urinary symptoms without the need to cut any prostate tissue. Small customized sutures are placed on either side of the prostate to lift the excess prostate tissue out of the way and restore the urethral opening.

Rowland compares the procedure to pulling a curtain to the side and compressing it with a tie, thus permitting outdoor light to shine in. “We’re compressing the prostate in order to open up the urethral lumen in much the same way.” The ultimate vision is for the UroLift system treatment to be available on an outpatient or office-setting basis, performed under local anesthesia, offering patients a more attractive treatment alternative to TURP. 

The technology began in a Mountain View-based medical device incubator called ExploraMed Development, LLC, in 2004. “A group of very bright individuals identified different BHP therapies and made a list of what was wrong,” Rowland relates. “They took a very specific, methodical approach to create a product solving these different problems.” Needing more space, the company moved to Hacienda in 2006,  setting up wet labs and a controlled environment room which meets higher air quality and cleanliness standards than an operating room.  

“BPH is a very widespread problem, affecting over 500 million men in the world,” Rowland observes. “As a company we are really doing something good. We were in Australia a few weeks ago with our latest generation product. The patients and the doctors were pleased with the results. It’s terrific to be helping men by offering a less invasive approach to BPH.” 


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