HIL is betting that Nanoblaz’s nanotechnology could help them find cancer treatment
According to CEO Sagi Brink-Danan, HIL made their acquisition through an equity agreement wherein Nanolabz’s stakeholders gained ownership of 5% of the Israeli company’s shares.
Co-founded in October of 2010 by Professor Arie Zigler and Dr. Shmuel Eisenmann, HIL is one of the leaders working to advance the viability of Proton Beam Therapy systems for treating cancer.
So far, they have raised $2 million from the equity crowdfunding platform OurCrowd, with more coming in as their account is still open for investment through the site. They have also received funding from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, as well as the Chief Scientist’s Office.
In their statement to the press responding to the announcement, Nanolabz Co-Founders Dr. Jesse Adams and Steven Malekos said they are “thrilled to have found a great partner for Nanolabz’ technology with HIL,” adding that, “We are looking forward to working with HIL’s world-class, committed and capable team on translating cutting-edge technology into products that will benefit cancer patients worldwide.”
Co-Founder and President of Nanolabz, Grant Korgan, added, “It’s a joy to see us reach this milestone. It is a testament to hard work and the power of positivity.”
Reimagining the approach to proton acceleration
While the scientific community is still exploring the possibilities of increasing their usage of Proton Beam Therapy systems as an alternative for more widespread cancer treatments, the fact is that has been woefully untapped as a resource due to limited access.
Brink-Danan tells Geektime that the particle accelerator and magnet technologies that people are using today for treating patients date back from before WWII, meaning that they are almost 80 years old. Add to this the enormous size and cost of the accelerators, coming in at 200 tons and the size of a football field, and it becomes basically too prohibitive for 96% of patients.
“We believe that based on our technology, we can make it less than one half the size, one third the price, and therefore accessible to every midsize hospital in the world,” he says, explaining that they bring a different approach using high powered lasers and nanotechnology to make an accelerator that is roughly the size of a dishwasher.
The way it works is that doctors fire the laser on a nano-engineered target and that targets produces very fast protons. The sped-up protons are then directed to the tumor inside the patient’s body. This process all occurs away from the patient, accelerating the protons to the required speed for effectiveness in just a fraction of the space previously needed.
Brink-Danan says that Nanolabz’s approach to building these nano targets will help them to pick up the pace of their development, telling Geektime that, “They have very interesting IP, and with this acquisition we are actually doubling our patent portfolio to 24 applications. They also have a terrific team that is very complimentary to our team here in Israel.”
Along with the addition of valuable IPs, he says that his company will be able to take advantage of the University of Nevada’s high intensity laser system that “can help us advance our R&D capabilities.”
He tells Geektime that his company currently has a working prototype at their R&D site in Jerusalem, and are now scaling up to an MVP model. However, Brink-Danan says that it will likely take another two and a half years until they have a ready product.
While some folks may be scratching their heads wondering how the hell a top rate nano-engineering firm based in Reno caught the attention of the Israeli startup, some of the recent developments out there may surprise you.
As the cost of living and doing business in Silicon Valley has skyrocketed in recent years with the tech boom, many entrepreneurs and corporates are turning to Reno as a viable alternative. Close enough to the Valley to comfortably make face-to-face meetings, but enough open spaces to stretch their legs out.
In speaking with Onstream’s CEO Craig Macy, a Valley veteran who founded his latest venture in Reno, he told Geektime last September that Reno has started to develop into a better ecosystem for tech. He notes that the city has drawn the attention of big corporate players like Microsoft, Apple, and Tesla, who have all set up operations there now.
Macy believes that these companies received significant incentives for bringing their businesses to town. He notes that Nevada does not have state income tax, which can be a definite perk for high wage earners.
For HIL, merging with Nanolabz gives them a strong foothold in a strategic location for both advancing their research at the University of Nevada’s labs, and as OurCrowd’s CEO Jon Medved told Geektime, “Getting a U.S. base of operations to expand their reach in that key market.”