Dartmouth cancer researchers’ cancer surgery innovation named Product of Year

Richard Barth Md, Keith Paulsen Phd And Venkat Krishnaswamy Phd

From left, Dr. Richard J. Barth Jr., Keith D. Paulsen and Venkat Krishnaswamy of CairnSurgical whose Breast Cancer Locator surgical device was voted as the 2021 Product of the Year.

The Breast Cancer Locator, developed by CairnSurgical Inc., a medtech company with roots at Dartmouth, was chosen Oct. 28 by viewers and judges as the NH Tech Alliance’s 2021 Product of the Year.

The BCL, as the product is known, is a custom form 3D-printed at CairnSurgical for each patient based on her own anatomy and tumor size and location. The form is used as a guide along with supine (patient lying faceup) MRI data and proprietary software to assist surgeons in locating and removing breast tumors to reduce positive margins, or cancer at the edge of the lumpectomy tissue. Removing the cancer completely in one surgery reduces the need for additional surgeries, and can potentially provide a better cosmetic result for patients and allow surgeons more time to help more patients, while reducing costs for the hospital.

In 33 pilot cases at the cancer center and at several other sites in New Hampshire and New England, use of the BCL resulted in zero positive margins and repeat surgeries. The product is now in a 450-patient global study.

The product was developed in part by Keith D. Paulsen, a professor of engineering at Dartmouth and co-director of the Translational Engineering in Cancer research program at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, along with Dartmouth-Hitchcock surgical oncologist Richard J. Barth Jr., a member of the TEC.

“I think the current clinical trial will be positive from everything that I can see,” says Paulsen. “The device works, and we think it could be easily adopted into the operating room.”

Paulsen, Barth and former Dartmouth faculty member Venkat Krishnaswamy are co-founders of CairnSurgical, which was created based on research emerging from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine and Thayer School of Engineering.

Barth said the team was “thrilled” at receiving the award, which he called “well-deserved recognition of the hard work of a whole team of clinicians, engineers and entrepreneurs.”

“The team at CairnSurgical demonstrates the critical role technology plays in improving patient care. New Hampshire should be proud that a technology like the Breast Cancer Locator, which has the potential to improve the outcomes and overall experience of patients battling this disease, is being developed right in our own backyard,” said Julie Demers, executive director of the NH Tech Alliance.

Early BCL research and development was made possible with funding from the National Cancer Institute, the Small Business Innovation Research Program and philanthropic support from a community member.

CairnSurgical’s BCL was one of five New Hampshire products that competed in the live-streamed event. The others were:

  • Helios Core from Helios Sports Inc.
  • BioAssemblyBot 500 from Advanced Solutions Life Sciences.
  • Powermax SYNC from Hypertherm Inc.
  • HVT 2.0 from Vapotherm.

The winner gets its product displayed at the Manchester Regional Airport in 2022.

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