Diagnostics & Imaging Week Contributing Writer

ZICHRON YAAKOV, Israel – The recent purchase of Sightline Technologies (Haifa, Israel) by Stryker (Kalamazoo, Michigan) for $240 million in cash and stock, brings to Stryker a flexible endoscopic platform with four FDA-approved products for early diagnosis of tumors and abnormalities in the digestive tract.

"Sightline has developed a technology set to dramatically change standards in colonoscopy and endoscopy procedures, by our innovative, proprietary technology that should improve insertion of the device and for the first time, allow sterilization between colonoscopy and other endoscopic procedures," Vi Levy, CEO of Sightline, told D&IW.

The deal was closed and the contract signed after six months of negotiations and only five days after it was announced by Inventech Investment (Tel Aviv, Israel), an investor in Sightline.

Inventech said Stryker will initially pay $50 million in cash for the company and pay the rest in shares, subject to Sightline meeting certain operational and financial milestones related to Sightline's products; the first of these milestones is not expected to occur before 2007.

Founded in 1994 inside The Technion Entrepreneurial Incubator of the Technion Research and Development Foundation, Sightline attained its first $500,000 in sales of its endoscopic products in 2004.

Sightline's platform brings three major advances to endoscopy: disposability in endoscopes, non-fiber optic light source and image processing.

Sightline developed the ColonoSight system, including the EndoSight non-fiber optic colonoscope, the disposable ColonoSleeve multi-lumen tube that is covered by a compressed protective sheath, and the electro-pneumatic System Control Unit (SCU) which powers the device. The company's advanced IntraPull power-assisted disposable technology has been shown to improve the safety and speed of traditional colonoscopy systems, while the protective sheath places a disposable barrier between the patient, the EndoSightscope, and the physician.

"Together, this innovative system lets gastroenterologists move quickly and confidently, to not only diagnose but treat abnormalities in the large intestine," said Levy. "We foresee that the ColonoSight system will become the gold standard, setting a new level of expertise and efficiency in a field that has not changed in decades."

The IntraPull power-assisted technology replaces the push system, thereby reducing pain and the risk of damage. It uses an air pressure-assisted system to pull the scope into the colon. The forward force of the device is generated by a pneumatic mechanism just below the tip of the scope which draws the scope in, and the operator then navigates with handles, reducing the need to push from the back. While making the procedure safer, it also reduces the amount of local anesthetic needed.

The ColonoSight's disposable sheaths eliminate the need for disinfection between procedures, Levy said, calling that a significant improvement since it cuts instrument downtime and reduces the risk of infection.

ColonoSight's integrated LED light source in the tip eliminates the need for the traditional fiber-optics being used in colonoscopy, which are costly to repair.

"The reduction in instrument downtime and in maintenance costs increases physician revenues," Levy said.

Furthermore, aside from its role as an exploratory instrument, the ColonoSight can also be used for therapeutic treatment and is able to do everything – and more – that a standard colonoscope can do. More than 90% of colon cancer is caused by small polyps in the colon. Once the ColonoSight has identified the location of the polyp, it can biopsy and excise or otherwise destroy it during the procedure, said Levy.

"Stryker is a leader in the rigid endoscopy market. This acquisition allows us to apply our core competencies in visualization technology and sales and marketing to the flexible endoscopy market," said Bill Enquist, president of Stryker Global Endoscopy. "Additionally, Sightline will potentially open up new markets for our Communications and Video Accessories businesses."

Levy added: "Sightline's technological approach will revolutionize endoscopy. We . . . will continue to set the bar for innovative products by bringing new, patient-friendly technology to the GI marketplace backed by the Stryker name and service reputation."

According to reports by the company and Israel Venture Capital Research, Sightline has raised $26.5 million to date in four financing rounds. Its main investors are Vitalife Life Sciences Venture; Inventech (which owned 10.7% of the company before the sale); the venture capital arm of Boston Scientific (Natick, Massachusetts), which owns 15%; Fishman Holdings; Israel Infinity Venture Capital; and NGN Capital of the U.S.

Professor Avi Ludomirsky, managing partner of Vitalife and chairman of SightLine's board, said: "SightLine's technology in identifying and treating colon cancer and other disease breaks a 20-year deadlock in colonoscopy. We have full confidence that Stryker will be able to maximize the potential of Sightline technology."

Levy said, "The ColonoSight is now set to win recognition and quick adoption for use by doctors, and penetration into the American market through the massive Stryker network and heightened awareness of the public for early screening and treatment of colon cancer made possible by another Israeli company, Given Imaging."

The ColonoScope device platform was clinically tested in over 100 patients in Israel, Italy and the U.S. with results presented in the ASGE plenary session of the Digestive Disease Week conference last May.

Endogun to raise $3M to $4M on TASE

Endogun Medical Systems, still another medical device start-up coming out of the Meytav Technological Enterprises Innovation Center incubator (both Kiryat Shmona, Israel) develops minimally invasive products for securing internal tissue for various surgical procedures.

Biomedix Incubator, Meytav's controlling shareholder, recently reported that Endogun plans to raise $3-4 million on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) at a company value of $6 million.

The final company value for the issue has not yet been fixed. Biomedix owns 67% of Meytav, which owns 56.2% of Endogun. IBI Investment House will lead the issue.

Endogun develops minimally invasive products, mainly for urology and gynecology. The company's flagship product, EndoFast Reliant, secures internal tissue for various surgical procedures. The company plans to initially market its product line for two surgical procedures: pelvic floor reconstruction (pelvic prolapse) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

Endogun says 600,000 pelvic prolapse procedures are carried out annually, and more than 40 million women suffer from SUI. Many procedures for these problems already use minimally invasive procedures.

Endogun's products are designed to simply these procedures and make them safer.

Founded in 2004, Endogun's sole funding to date has been a Chief Scientist grant through Meytav. Engodun CEO Eitan Hod formerly served as products manager at Aran Research & Development and developed medical devices at Elscint and GE Israel.

Endogun was founded by Dr. Adrian Paz, head of laparoscopic urology at Barzlai Hospital, who has also founded Bioprotect, Newphase, and VPC.

Jonathan Goldstein, vice president of business development for Endogun, previously worked for Jerusalem Global Ventures, InnoMed Ventures, VisionRT and Galil Medical Technologies (now Oncura).