Smart laser

Fear of pain, one can feel in a dental chair, refrains some patients from visiting a dentist. Although modern medical science may make the dental treatment relatively painless, many problems have still not been solved. For a startup company Photonics, that specializes in the development of innovative laser systems for soft and hard tissues surgery, dental clinics are one of the main potential buyers. The first product of the company, stLase, designated for operations on soft tissues, will give the dentistry a chance to cure paradontium and oral mucosa disorders and scaling and conduct different surgical interferences effectively and safe. From the very beginning of laser application in medical practice, surgeons have faced a problem of uneven distribution of laser power. Due to the fact that the operated tissues are heterogeneous, a laser ray of the assigned power may “burn through” one areas and not reach the necessary depth in the others.

The human factor inevitably aggravates this effect: uneven movement of laser scalpel in a surgeon’s hand may also lead to heterogeneity of tissue cut. StLase minimizes soft tissues defect in the mouth cavity, as in this case laser is able to correct its own impulse power automatically. If in the past doctors had to define themselves (often by-sight), how long the ray had to operate on these or that areas of the tissues, now the smart device chooses optimal ray power, constantly analyzing temperature in a point that is being affected.  For this to become possible, developers have equipped stLase with a microprocessor, which in real time processes parameters of “feed-back”, which are received via laser and heat channels system.

“A doctor gets a compact laser with the power of 30 watt, any specialist is capable of dealing with easily”, — says Igor Shugailov, the chief medical advisor of Photonics.

The new device interface is not overloaded with any extravagance: only radiation power upper limit and current temperature are reflected during an operation. Although Photonics was registered not long ago, at the end of 2010, the project has been worked upon for several years now involving specialists from different countries.  The device has been tested in Russia and in the USA. Now engineers and doctors continue improving stLase and carrying out clinical trials, expanding the possible application areas of the device.

Dmitry Popov, managing partner of Maxwell Biotech Venture Fund, which is a project investor, itemizes core objectives, set forth before the team: further development of stLase prototype and creation of a series model which will be introduced to the market, drafting operation procedures of production and test performance necessary for the device registration in Russia.

Total investment in Photonics amounts to 40 million rubles. RVC Seed Fund acts as a co-investor.

Following Maxwell Biotech representatives, first small-lot samples of stLase are to appear for their promotion in Russia. Sales will start as soon as Federal Service on Surveillance in Healthcare and Social Development of the Russian Federation issues a registration certificate for the device.

Dmitry Popov anticipates that stLase serial production is to be launched in the second half of 2012.  During the first year the Company is planning to sell some dozens to some hundreds of devices at a price around USD 10 thousand (a quite moderate price for a device with such technical features).

“Later when customers take their time and manage to appreciate the quality and functionality of stLase and all the claimed technologies’ effectiveness is clinically proven, it will become possible to increase the price”, Popov says. 

During the second year of sales the Company is planning to sell the devices for the amount of USD 5-10 mln.  Apart from dentistry, stLase may be used in general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, otolaryngology, endoscopic and decorative surgery — and this is only the beginning of a long list of profitable areas of its application. However, for the time being the Company is not going to diffuse efforts, but will concentrate on more profitable customers – dental clinics. Key markets stLase is aimed at are Russia, the USA and Europe. Dmitry Popov regrets to recognize, that Russia lags behind the developed countries in terms of the level of penetration of modern medical technologies into everyday practice that is why the company does not expect high demand from domestic medical establishments. Probably, American and European clinics are to apply stLase more actively (whereas prices for the device will be higher than the one set for Russian customers).


Anna Zelenkova,
PR director with Maxwell Biotech Group;
Tel.: +7 (495) 411-6992