Maple Grove Medical Device Company Overcoming Setbacks of COVID-19
In a nondescript building in Maple Grove, important work is being done in an effort to treat the second most common cancer in American men.
“We’re developing a very novel, minimally invasive technology that can help treat prostate cancer,” said Michael Kujak, CEO of Francis Medical.
Specifically, Francis Medical is developing a prostate cancer therapy that uses heated water vapor to deliver targeted treatments to cancerous tissue.
“The current treatments that are on the market today are both a radical prostatectomy where they surgically remove the prostate, and radiation,” Kujak said. “And those can lead to very high, adverse events such as urinary incontinence and ED.”
The treatment would help avoid those unwanted side effects. However, it’s not ready for the market just yet. It’s currently undergoing an early feasibility study, which started right around the time the pandemic hit.
“Just as we were getting ready to roll out our first site, COVID hit,” Kujak said. “And that shut down all of our medical practices from doing elective procedures, where our procedure is an elective procedure. And so it delayed us by about four months.”
The impact of COVID-19
Kujak says COVID-19 has turned the medical device industry on its head, but they’ve been fortunate enough to navigate through the setbacks. One of those setbacks includes patients wanting to participate in the clinical trial having to “jump through a lot of hoops and steps” in order to participate.
“Everyone’s been very flexible,” Kujak said. “Wearing many different hats and being able to adjust.”
Meanwhile, for this company, 2020 has brought some good news. Francis Medical just secured a $4 million equity investment from world-renowned urology company Coloplast.
“It’s kind of almost as good as a Good Housekeeping stamp of approval,” Kujak said. “That a company with a urology background and the depth of experience they have, that comes in and looks at this technology and says, ‘yeah this is something that’s innovative and different and needed in the marketplace.'”
That investment will help Francis Medical accelerate its product development. And if all goes according to plan, their product will hit the marketplace in 2025.
“We’ve been very fortunate because of our technology, the uniqueness of it, and the unmet need in the prostate cancer space,” Kujak said.