(proactiveinvestors.com)–Ozop Surgical Corp (OTCMKTS:OZSC) is working to realize the promise of minimally invasive spinal surgery for the millions of people suffering from severe back pain.
Over the past 20 years, minimally invasive surgery has transformed medical procedures ranging from gall bladder and appendix removal to valve replacement and bypass surgery to orthopedics procedures involving knees, shoulders and hips. For patients, the benefits include lower costs, fewer complications, faster recovery and less pain.
Spinal surgery has been a laggard, according to Ozop, because most procedures require the placement of relatively large objects such as screws or plates.
Other areas of interest for Ozop are neurological and pain-management procedures. The company also invents, designs, develops, manufactures and distributes endoscopic instruments, surgical implants, instrumentation and related technologies
Ozop’s key assets
A key area of focus for the West Palm Beach, Florida, company is development of balloon lumbar interbody fusion (BLIF) technology for minimally invasive spine surgery. (“BLIF” is pronounced “bee” and then “lif, which rhymes with “cliff.”)
Medical-quality balloons are routinely used for opening clogged arteries, repairing broken bones and other procedures. The advantage of a balloon is that it can be inserted into a small incision and then inflated to the proper size.
With BLIF, according to Ozop, a needle or wire is used to get to a damaged disc. Once imaging confirms placement, a small tube is placed over the needle or wire. Through this portal, an endoscope can be used to view the disc and damaged tissue is removed. (The tube protects surrounding muscle and tissue are protected from damage by the tube.)
Once the damaged material has been removed, the disc is measured and a balloon is inserted and filled with a hardening polymer. A surgeon can then fill in the area around the implant with bone graft to help promote fusion of the spine.
Expected milestones for Ozop’s BLIF technology include establishing an experienced team of surgeons and industry experts to hone the technique and then complete tests for submission to the Food and Drug Administration.
In addition, the company has begun development of an enhanced expandable anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) implant, with initial designs and prototypes completed. This product, according to Ozop, is easier to insert and use than competing products.
The company expects to complete design and testing in the first half of 2019 and anticipates FDA approval in the second half.
Other products in the pipeline include visualization tools for minimally invasive surgery including light filtration and 3D technology.
Ozop started to gain momentum in February 2018, when its purchase of Spinus LLC for $782,289 gave the company the rights to what it says is a rich intellectual property portfolio as well as an FDA-approved line of spinal products.
Another big step came when the company went public in April 2018 through a reverse merger. The partner in the deal was a publicly traded entity that rented bicycles, Segways and related equipment in Lithuania. Last December, just several months after the reverse merger, Ozop was promoted to the OTCQB exchange, the second tier of the OTC Markets.
Serving as CEO is Michael Chermak, who assumed that role in September 2016 and owns an 18% stake in the company. He sold a company he founded, Healthdemographics Inc, to Medirisk, a Dutch company, in 1997. He continues to serve as managing director of Makena Investment Advisers LLC and as president of MD Capital Advisors Inc.
Ozop’s biggest shareholder, with a 37% stake, is Eric Siu, who serves as the company’s director of endoscopic program development. Siu, according to Ozop, has spent more than a decade creating intellectual property and developing minimally invasive endoscopic products.
A recent addition to the executive team is Thomas McLeer, the company’s chief operating officer since October. His prior work includes serving as vice president of sales and marketing at Rockaway, New Jersey-based LinkSpine.