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SA biotech CEO: Company on the verge of taking cancer-detection product to market
November 20, 2018

Seno Medical Instruments Inc. CEO Tom Umbel said the company is picking up momentum. GABE HERNANDEZ | SABJ

By W. Scott BaileySenior Reporter, San Antonio Business Journal

Seno Medical Instruments Inc., a San Antonio-based diagnostic imaging system developer, is on the verge of taking its cancer-detection technology to market — 13 years after it was established.

The company is on pace to get its first device into Europe in a few months and to enter the U.S. market by 2020, said CEO Tom Umbel, who in June gave up commuting and moved from Wisconsin to San Antonio.

It’s been a long journey for Seno Medical, co-founded in 2005 by Janet Campbell, but Umbel believes the company is gaining momentum.

“The objective for me when I came in here was to build on what Janet had done — which was a great job of bootstrapping the company and getting it funded — to take what was developed and clearly not a commercial product yet but to get it to that stage,” said Umbel, who was named CEO of Seno Medical in 2016. “By the end of the first quarter, we plan to put our first commercial unit into a site in the Netherlands.”

Umbel acknowledged there is more work to do to get the company’s opto-acoustic/ultrasound-fused technology in U.S. health care providers' hands.

“The [Food and Drug Administration] has been a challenge,” Umbel said. “We completed the initial study that Janet and her team put together and met all the endpoints. But they asked for some additional information, so we are about to embark on that final pivotal human trial.”

The extra work will strengthen the science behind the company’s technology and the U.S. rollout of its product, said Umbel, who years ago worked with a Massachusetts entity called Hologic Inc. that focused on women’s health. Hologic considered acquiring Seno Medical, but its officials determined after multiple trips to San Antonio that the local company was not a mature enough target.

As CEO of Seno Medical, Umbel has brought in a senior management team to improve the company’s march to market and to explore more opportunities for product development.



“Those people have done a remarkable job of determining what we need to do to make the next product better. That process, in spite of the FDA delays, has not slowed down,” he said. “We will have a next-generation product in less than a year after we get FDA approval.”

It’s helped that, unlike some companies seeking commercialization, Seno Medical has not been short of cash.

“We’ve been able to attract new money,” Umbel said. “This is a decently funded company, given the stage we are in. But the patience of the investors will be one of the driving forces in the course this company will ultimately take.”

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