In turbulent times, there’s always a desire to romanticize the past. One medical device company in California seems to be going the extra mile on that front.
And there’s a local company angle — there always is here at MassDevice — Solx Inc. of Waltham (and former BU incubator tenant) uses a gold shunt to relieve intraocular pressure and is featured briefly in the article.
However, The Foundry is trying a new treatment based on an archaic, and a little bit nasty-sounding, treatment:
“The Foundry’s glaucoma device is based on a treatment popularized in 1906. German surgeons discovered a simple solution for glaucoma — where the eyes’ lubricating liquid gets blocked, creating pressure that kills off the optic nerves: They simply sliced open a hole in the eye to let fluid drain out.
It worked, according to the medical reports of the day. The pain was tolerable — it only required cocaine and adrenal shots, not general anesthesia — but it left patients with a hole in the eye that could be made too big, dangerously reducing eye pressure, or that spontaneously closed up, eliminating its positive effects.
So the technique was abandoned, despite a 1930s review that found the procedure, called cyclodialysis, worked 80 percent of the time when used on the right types of glaucoma.
Now, rather than physically cutting a pathway for the fluid, a newly-designed implant could act as a tiny pipe that drains fluid out from the front of the eye. This might solve the problems long-associated with the procedure — and a spin-off company has $7 million in venture capital to give it a go.”
For the record, I’ve managed to squeeze in a pot reference, a cocaine reference, gold eyeball bling and drilling holes in the eye into a single post on medical devices. And to think all my friends thought this was a boring industry.
But it doesn’t stop at eyeball-drilling, according to the article. Apparently, a number of old and sometimes horrifying procedures are making a comeback. It’s worth a read. For my money, I’d rather take a pill than have someone slice into my eye.
“One hundred years from this day, will people still feel this way, still say the things that they’re saying right now?”
My colleague Brad just sent me that lyric from a Gram Parsons oldie, after I told him about something I heard at a lecture last night sponsored by J. Robert Scott.
Now, I can’t quote anything from the meeting since I was there as a guest and they asked me not to. But I was struck when the speaker said he’d been studying Konosuke Matsushita, the legendary founder of Panasonic. There’s a pictorial history on Panasonic’s web site about their founder’s life that’s pretty cool. Matsushita was a visionary, to say the least, and he famously made a 250-year plan for the company that is still being implemented.
At MassDevice, we have a 100-year plan — it involves preserving our brains in jars of fluid and hooking them up to electrodes so we can outlive our bodies. We call it our “Steve Martin” plan.
All kidding aside, the idea of such a long-range plan made me wonder if it would ever be possible for an industry like medical devices to have companies that last hundreds of years.
Codman, a J&J company with headquarters in Raynham, has been around since 1838. A handful of other companies that were founded back in the 19th and early 20th century are still humming along.
But with all due respect to Thomas Codman, I doubt he thought his ether pocket cupping instrument would pave the way for modern anesthesia.
In this day and age, when it seems like the pathway to innovation ends at an IPO or a corporate merger, will anyone take the time to create long-range plans to turn their companies into legacies? And what would the VC guys in Waltham say if an entrepreneur came in saying, “I need $80 million to get to market and then we have a quarter-of-a-millennium exit strategy.” Something tells me they wouldn’t like that “story” so much.
There’s a feeling in the air that the rules have changed on all of us. Perhaps a new breed of managers will look to the path blazed by guys like Matsushita in building their companies. Maybe we can leave the sticking of rods in people’s eyes to the venture capitalists.
“One Hundred Years From Now”
Written by Gram Parsons
One hundred years from this day, will the people still feel this way?
Still say the things that they’re saying right now?
Everyone said I’d hurt you, they said that I’d desert you.
If I go away, you know I’m gonna get back some how.
Nobody knows what kind of trouble we’re in.
Nobody seems to think it’ll all might happen again.
One hundred years from this time, would anybody change their minds?
And find out one thing or two about life?
But people are always talking.
You know they’re always talking.
Everybody’s so wrong that I know it’s gonna work out right.
Nobody knows what kind of trouble we’re in.
Nobody seems to think it all might happen again.