A medical device based on technology developed by three faculty members from Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center (UH), Drs. Sanford Markowitz, Amitabh Chak, and Joseph Willis, has won a prestigious 2020 Edison Best New Product Award.
EsoCheck , a device designed to help detect precancerous changes in the esophagus, was named a “Silver” winner of the 2020 Edison Best New Product Awards in the “Medical/Dental – Testing Solutions” subcategory.
The technology was developed as part of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center’s GI SPORE (Gastrointestinal Specialized Program of Research Excellence) and BETRNet (Barrett’s Esophagus Translational Research Network) programs led by Markowitz and Chak, and was first tested in humans in a clinical trial led by Chak at University Hospitals.
Esophageal cancer is mainly associated when stomach acid refluxes into the esophagus. The repeated exposure of the esophagus to acid can lead to pre-cancerous changes in its lining, called Barrett’s Esophagus. Nearly all patients diagnosed with this cancer have evidence of previously undetected Barrett’s Esophagus. If detected before cancer develops, Barrett’s Esophagus can be successfully treated, usually with non-surgical approaches.
EsoCheck involves a simple five-minute office-based test, where the patient swallows a vitamin pill-sized capsule containing a small inflatable balloon attached to a thin catheter, which swabs the target area for cells as the catheter is withdrawn. The sample is then tested for the presence of DNA biomarkers recently shown to be highly accurate in detecting Barrett’s Esophagus.
In 2012 and 2013, Drs. Nathan Berger and Amitabh Chak, partnered with the Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative (CTSC) of Cleveland to sponsor the Barrett’s Esophagus Translational Research Network (BETRNet) Pilot Grant Program. This partnership provided translational support which ultimately helped the founders' research develop the EsoCheck technology through BETRNet.