Startup Ancerix to commercialize much needed tool kit for surgeons
TUCSON, AZ – A transformative startup in the field of orthopedic surgery has emerged as a result of research and innovation at the University of Arizona. Dr. Daniel Latt, Associate Professor in the College of Medicine – Tucson and the College of Engineering, led an effort that included five students to develop inventions that address critical challenges orthopedic surgeons face in the operating room. Tech Launch Arizona, the office of the university that commercializes innovations stemming from research, worked with the team to file patents for the two inventions and license the intellectual property to a startup – Ancerix – formed to bring the inventions to the marketplace.
The technology forms the foundation for a set of medical instruments that address three common challenges in orthopedic hardware removal: screw heads that are inaccessible due to bone overgrowth; screws that spin freely and have lost purchase due to infection or poor bone quality; and pieces of a broken rod that are unretrievable because they lack attachment points. In response to these challenges, Dr. Latt's team has engineered extraction devices that, upon FDA approval, will compose a comprehensive toolkit.
"I've always believed in addressing the real-world challenges we face in the operating room,” said Dr. Latt. “These tools, stemming from our rigorous research at the University of Arizona, aim to offer practical solutions to specific issues we frequently encounter. It's about refining our approaches and ensuring we have the right tools at our disposal. Ancerix’s toolkit, built upon our patented inventions, represents this very ethos."
A team of undergraduate students led the initial design and testing of the tools as the capstone project for their participation in the Craig M. Berge Engineering Design Program. The team included Emilio Araiza, an aerospace and mechanical engineering major; Carlos Urea-De La Puerta and Erick De Leon, both former biomedical engineering majors; and former systems engineering majors Carolina Gomez Llanos and Eva Richter.
Araiza is still pursuing his undergraduate degree. De La Puerta is pursuing a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Cornell University, Richter is an industrial engineer with W.L. Gore & Associates, Gomez Llanos is a systems engineer with Northrop Grumman and De Leon is a manufacturing associate at Moderna.
On the business side, Dr. Latt’s collaborators in the startup include the veteran medical device designer Dr. Ramses Galáz and business development authority John Buttery. Galáz, with his 15 years of experience, is an inventor on 34 granted patents spanning orthopedic surgery, intensive care, and interventional cardiology. Buttery, known for his technological expertise and international acumen, brings a blend of entrepreneurial drive and vast experience in developing sales channels, further strengthening the team's prospects for business growth.
"Ancerix rests on collaboration, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to superior patient care," remarked John Buttery, President of Ancerix. "Our partnership with Dr. Daniel Latt and the licensed patents from The University of Arizona are a testament to this dedication. As we refine our orthopedic instruments with precision, we are firmly set on achieving the rigorous benchmarks for FDA approval. Subsequent to this, the Ancerix Toolkit will be introduced to orthopedic surgical groups globally."
The company is refining instrument prototypes, finalizing designs, and putting the technologies through comprehensive testing. Their next major milestone is submitting an application for FDA approval. Upon successful approval, Ancerix anticipates launching its orthopedic surgical toolkit by the Fall of 2024.