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3626 W Liberty St
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Christine Gibbons

Getting a drug from research lab at an institution of higher education to commercialization is a journey filled with danger. An expensive journey. The kind that needs a lot of people to get it from Point A to Point B.

The payoff can be huge. Drug discovery is a multi-billion industry and only promises to get bigger as the population ages. Because the U.S. regulatory process is so long and complicated it takes millions of dollars in seed capital and years of testing to get a new drug to commercialization.

Histosonics is going through that right now. The University of Michigan spin out is developing a medical device that uses tightly focused ultrasound pulses to treat prostate disease in a non-invasive manner with robotic precision. The technology helped inspire the company's name by combining histo (meaning tissue) and sonics (meaning sound waves).

The 4-year-old firm, which calls Ann Arbor home, is in the midst of clinical trials. It’s in the first year of the safety study for its initial clinical trial. It’s pivotal trial is next. That means at least a couple more years of research, but the life sciences startup’s team is confident as it works toward its goal.

"I have great advisors," says Christine Gibbons, CEO of Histosonics. "There is a lot of collective experience around the table."

The team, the team, the team is an iconic saying in Ann Arbor. More so for football but is applies just as much to the area's emerging new economy. Companies like Histosonics lean on a combination of its internal team, a board of advisors and its research staff. It also relies on these team members to find new ones.

“We rely heavily on networking,” Gibbons says. “Our clinical research manager was recommended to us by one of our clinical advisors.”

Another big obstacle for Histosonics has been tracking down the right people to take place in its clinical trials.

"One of the key challenges to any trial is recruitment," Gibbons says. "Specifically, patient recruitment." She adds, "finding the right recruitment team was essential to getting the trial done efficiently."

Finding the right patients that fit into Histosonics narrow testing field meant a prolonged search that dragged the process out even more. It wasn't a challenge too big for the company to overcome.

"It was even more of a challenge than we originally expected," Gibbons says. "But we have figured it out."

- Written by Jon Zemke

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