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With Zap-X, the creator of CyberKnife aims to give radiation a better image

by Gus Iversen , Editor in Chief
From the October 2018 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine

JA: We have FDA clearance as of last year, but not yet in clinical use. First machine is installed in Barrow Brain and Spine in Phoenix, Arizona, a partner of Barrow Neurological Institute. That is a 40-person neurosurgery practice and they installed it in the last couple months. They’re planning to treat the first patient next month.

HCB News: In June we heard about Foxconn opening up a manufacturing plant in Wisconsin. What role is Foxconn playing in the efforts to ramp up awareness and access to Zap X?
JA: My investor, my primary investor is Foxconn, they are led by Terry Gou, the chairman, who is a major industrial figure well-known in Silicon Valley, sort of like an Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos figure in Taiwan. Foxconn makes iPhones, and they have 1.5 million employees. Four percent of all Chinese exports are exported by them and [they represent] 20 percent of the GNP of Taiwan. It is the 30th biggest company in the world by revenue, but they are always behind the scenes so they don’t have such a big profile.
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That may be changing, which relates to what was going on in Wisconsin, where they are investing $10 billion into building a manufacturing city that is close to four square miles. They plan to hire 20,000 to 30,000 new employees and they want to focus on manufacturing American technologies.

One of the primary focuses that has gotten a lot of publicity is making displays for TVs, they bought Sharp Electronics – so Sharp’s next generation TV will be made in Wisconsin using what’s called a micro LCD. There will be a few other products manufactured there as well, including ours.

HCB News: How was the Zap-X technology developed?
JA: It was developed by me. After inventing the CyberKnife and creating Accuray, I went back to Stanford 10 years ago, wanting to make a next generation product because I was kind of disappointed that radiosurgery didn’t have a bigger footprint. I thought the technology warranted even greater usage, even in developed countries like the U.S. but especially around the developing world.

A survey we did suggested more than 2 million patients every year in the wealthiest part of the world should undergo SRS (stereotactic radiosurgery) for brain tumors but only 150,000 patients do. So we were driven by the opportunity to address an unmet need, and wanting to make something that overcame the limitations, the limitations boil down to cost and complexity.

If one backs up for a second and looks at the landscape of medical procedures and devices, it’s pretty clear that radiosurgical technology specifically, not just radiotherapy, is the most expensive technology in the healthcare landscape, and the most complex. So with Zap-X we’re trying to address that problem.
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