CBC/FreePress/Metro: Innovators created laser that blasts deep-seated tumours
Dr. Mark Torchia and Richard Tyc started off buying chunks of meat in a Winnipeg supermarket to test an idea for a gizmo in their lab — now it’s performing brain surgery in 35 medical centres across North America.
University of Manitoba alumni Torchia and Tyc are one of six teams receiving the inaugural Governor General’s Innovation Awards May 19 for their development of the NeuroBlate System.
Their NeuroBlate device, two decades in the making, drills through the skull to deliver a laser beam on a lesion, with the minimal possible damage to brain tissue. It’s about two millimetres wide and made of a polymer and sapphire construction, details of which are proprietary. The name is a combination of the words neurosurgery and ablation.
Torchia is an associate professor of surgery in the U of M’s College of Medicine and the director of the University’s Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning. Tyc is vice-president, technology and advanced technology, at Monteris Medical, a spinoff company established in 1999 to create groundbreaking neurosurgical technologies.
“The idea about using lasers in brain surgery has been around a long time,” Torchia said Thursday, but perfecting it to allow surgeons to work with the least possible damage has been the key.
“Rich and I have been working on it, you’re probably looking at two decades.”