Molli Surgical eases the medical journey
Stephen LawElectronics Engineering Medical breast cancer Editor Pick Marker medical MOLLI MOLLI-2 radiologists re.markable Sunnybrook surgeons surgery surgical
Technology replaces outdated breast cancer procedures
Toronto-based MOLLI Surgical is quickly establishing itself as an emerging leader in Canada’s medical electronics design sector and abroad by pushing the boundaries of precision breast cancer surgery with its award-winning technologies.
This year, the firm launched two new products that make breast cancer surgery more precise for surgeons and better for patients. These devices, MOLLI 2 and MOLLI re.markable, are both paving the way for the next generation of healthcare. The award-winning, wire-free soft tissue localization technology marks the location of a lesion precisely for removal during surgery.
“Our mission has been very much about creating technology and to save and improve lives. We do that with a set of brilliant engineering staff in Toronto,” says Ananth Ravi, president and CEO of MOLLI Surgical.
The MOLLI 2 device is easy to use, reliable and precise, delivering enhanced efficiency. MOLLI re.markable is a revolutionary new tool helping physicians accurately mark lesions by allowing radiologists and surgeons to reposition a localization marker with minimal impact or discomfort for patients. If the original placement was suboptimal, the localization marker can be removed without requiring invasive surgery or a large biopsy needle.
“When working on medical devices, it is imperative to create safe effective products because our mission is very different from consumer electronics. We are impacting people’s lives, so the risk is that much higher. There’s a level of diligence that we must provide,” Ravi says. “Our products make it easier for surgeons to have more confidence, so that when they are taking out some tissue – it’s the right tissue and it’s not too much.”
MOLLI 2 is an evolution in MOLLI Surgical’s award-winning platform technology that allows surgeons to pinpoint cancerous tissue for faster, more accurate, and potentially improved cosmesis while significantly improving the patient experience. The wire-free technology includes the MOLLI Marker — about the size of a sesame seed — that can be detected using MOLLI 2. The MOLLI Marker is the smallest on the market and precisely marks where lesions are located before breast cancer surgery. The MOLLI Tablet then displays the distance — and now direction — between the tip of MOLLI 2 and the MOLLI Marker in millimeters. MOLLI 2 is easy to use, reliable and precise, delivering improved efficiency and improving patient outcomes.
“These devices allow doctors to create optimal cosmetic results for the patient, but also cut the cancer out. From a health system perspective, we’re also separating radiology where they implant the marker from surgery where they take it out. It allows a lot of process efficiency,” said Ravi, who started off his career as a physicist, responsible for the radiation oncology program at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto.
So as part of that, Ravi gained early exposure and experience building customized treatments and technologies for precision health care and precision radiation.
How to improve the journey for breast cancer patients
“I’ve always been building things, whether it’d be electrical guidance systems or imaging systems for assisting and improving the patient experience and journey. Other initiatives were more tactical mechanical components – used in mobilization devices or processes,” noted Ravi. “While I was working as a medical physicist in this role for radiation, a surgeon approached me on how to improve the improve the journey for breast cancer patients. We soon started doing work together – trying to make that experience tremendously better – and that’s how Molli was born.”
Molli’s commercial launch this year has these products being used in more than 100 institutions, while treating greater than 8,000 patients throughout North America. That success was mostly driven by a diverse and collaborative engineering team and a lot of patience.
“A lot of our engineering design function is done in Toronto, and we now have a commercialization arm that is looking for ways to grow globally. We’re very strong in North America and Canada,” Ravi added.
Due to the complexity of creating such products, Ravi was faced with assembling a diverse design team – in terms of engineering disciplines.
“We actually have quite a variety of specialists from mechanical engineering – to help build the construct and the hardware. Our electrical and electromechanical teams ideally work hand in hand, because there’s a really interesting interplay between the two as you build these devices. Obviously, software and algorithm development are a big part of medical devices, with QA (quality assurance) and regulatory being a big piece. Our systems engineer must look at the whole picture and integrate everything together to make sure that we are appropriately addressing the clinical needs without adding an over engineering solutions,” Ravi explained. “I think this is the challenge with creating medical devices – making sure that you keep simplifying to the essence. In the end, we’re looking for the simplest, most elegant solution to something – as opposed to just adding a lot of engineering complexity to the tools we create.”
Equipped with 60 specialized staff on hand, Molli Surgical has approximately half dedicated to engineering and innovation, with the other 50% of the team focused on commercialization of end-user projects.
Our mandate towards breast cancer surgery is to continue working to improve the fundamental patient experiences – basically from the time she’s diagnosed to the surgical piece. Patients are obviously dealing with a lot that comes from a diagnosis. So, our goal is to be sure to make the marking of the cancer and the subsequent removal of the cancer, not a traumatic event. Be sure not to leave any physical scar or emotional memory scar of the therapy – that would be the ideal goal.
Looking forward, Ravi and his team are seeking to expand this medical technology to other sides of the body and assist in minimally invasive surgery in general.
“There are other applications throughout the body for soft tissues that are incredibly useful and pertinent. Right now, we are (medically) cleared to be applied in all soft tissues and we have surgeons already using it in incredibly important ways that help guide surgeries,” Ravi noted. “I’m happy to say that we’re quickly displacing wire technology throughout throughout Canada and elevating the care for people close to home and I’m really proud of that.”