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October 21, 2014

NICO, Synaptive Medical join forces to integrate innovative technologies for brain surgery

Indianapolis interventional medical device maker NICO Corporation and Toronto-based 3D visualization leader Synaptive Medical announced today at the Congress of Neurological Surgeons Annual Meeting that they have joined forces to integrate their innovative technologies for brain surgery. The collaboration is the first of its kind and will make a powerful combination to improve patient outcomes. NICO’s BrainPath® interventional access technology and Synaptive’s BrightMatter™ real-time 3D visualization and planning system are the foundation of a unique sales agreement that enables the two companies to improve market penetration and also bring an integrated surgery solution to neurosurgeons and the patient population.

“We know by looking at the results from other medical specialties that advanced visualization and minimally disruptive or minimally invasive interventional technologies make a powerful combination to improve patient outcomes [view a video of how the integrated technologies work HERE],” said Jim Pearson, president and CEO of NICO Corporation. “Our partnership allows us to offer a complete and integrated solution as we capitalize on NICO’s five years of market presence. Together, we are stronger and more capable of meeting a very significant unmet patient need.”

The collaboration between NICO and Synaptive is an agreement that allows NICO to act as a U.S. sales agent for Synaptive Medical. NICO currently has 20 field team representatives throughout the U.S. Nearly 200 neurosurgeons have been trained on the BrainPath surgical approach through concentrated education courses and over 1,000 successful surgeries have been performed. Clinical and scientific evidence is building with peer-reviewed publications, 9 peer-reviewed abstracts and case studies presented or published validating the clinical and patient outcomes using BrainPath.

“We entered the neurosurgery space to fill a very wide gap in the sophistication of brain imaging,” said Cameron Piron, president of Synaptive Medical. “With our technology, we have the ability to render a real-time display of the millions of brain fiber tracts that are critical to preserving if the patient is to return to their family after surgery with as few deficits as possible. This allows BrainPath to safely access the brain abnormality by moving parallel to the fibers, significantly reducing the potential for tissue damage.”

Pearson added that respecting the fiber tracts because of the clarity that can be seen has never been done before. “Our approach is safe and our short-term surgical outcomes are measurable and reproducible,” he said. “This is what will enable us to define and improve a new standard of care in neurosurgery.”

In this time of advanced technology and once-complicated surgeries moving to minimally invasive approaches, truly replicating this standard of care in neurosurgery remains one of the final frontiers. Piron likens the move to what happened in orthopedics when the specialty went from performing open knee surgery that required weeks of recovery time to arthroscopic surgery that is done today in which patients recover in much shorter times and with less trauma.

The patented BrainPath provides unique surgical access to brain abnormalities and atraumatically accesses emergent and hard to reach brain lesions that were considered inoperable or inaccessible. It is uniquely designed to minimize tissue damage by displacing tissues of the brain during advancement to the abnormality – much like the way a boat hull moves through water by displacing what is in front of it – all through an opening smaller than a dime. The outer sheath remains in the brain to serve as a protective portal for surgeons to easily maintain access to the surgical site during tissue removal or fluid evacuation.

BrightMatter products provide advanced visualization and planning tools that enable pre-operative planning for image-guided treatments. Using automated data processing that allows for brain segmentation and hands-free imaging registration to generate real-time 3D tractography, the BrightMatter workflow approach fuses tractography with the area of interest to plan a simple and intuitive trajectory for the BrainPath intervention technology. The BrainPath provides a pathway for tissue removal tools, which enables resection of abnormalities.

“Neurosurgery is an extremely underdeveloped market segment with over 2 million patients worldwide – many of them not having surgical options when told they have a brain abnormality,” Pearson said. “We expect market adoption of our technologies to be quite rapid because of the large unmet patient need.”

Pearson said the collective mission of NICO and Synaptive is to swing the pendulum in the other direction by giving more patients a surgical option. With their combined technologies, surgeons are able to see better with BrightMatter and get to what they see with BrainPath in a safe way for the patient. In the U.S., 50 percent of the 450,000 patients diagnosed with brain abnormalities have limited surgical options.

This is not the first time Pearson and Piron have joined their company technologies to create a new market and change a standard of patient care. In 2004, the two partnered under Sentinelle Medical and Suros Surgical Systems to make breast biopsy for high-risk women possible while in the MRI suite. This combination of imaging and intervention made diagnosing breast lesions as malignant or benign possible prior to mastectomy for women in this high-risk category. Both companies were later acquired by Hologic, Inc., where the technologies are still being used today as a gold standard of care.

The BrainPath is being used in large academic centers to small community hospitals across the U.S., including: Johns Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic, Duke Raleigh, Aurora Health Care, Univ. of Arkansas, GWU, Stanford, Cancer Treatment Centers-IL, Houston Methodist, St. Louis Univ., Long Island Jewish, Evanston NorthShore, St. Vincent Health-IN, IU Health, Emory Univ., UVA, Phoenix Baptist, and Marquette General. Patient stories on successes using BrainPath have been published in local news reports in nearly all cities with BrainPath Center hospitals.

Video showing the integration of BrainPath access and BrightMatter visualization technologies is located on the NICO YouTube channel at NICOneuroCorp. For more information on the NICO BrainPath, visit; for more information on BrightMatter, visit