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BIOTECHNOLOGY

Compiled by Leslie Berkman, Times staff writer

Disposable Surgical Devices: Paul Lubock knows which way the wind is blowing. Lubock was formerly vice president of engineering at Medstone International Inc., an Irvine company that has developed lithotripters, devices that use shock waves to disintegrate kidney stones.

Medstone for a long time had hoped that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also would approve the use of its lithotripters for crushing gallstones. But the company recently abandoned those efforts, in part because the medical community seems to be leaning toward methods other than lithotripsy for treating or removing gallstones.

One method that is rapidly gaining popularity, Lubock said, is laparoscopic surgery, which does not require as extensive cutting as traditional surgery and speeds a patient’s recovery.

Laparoscopic surgery is performed through small incisions in the abdomen, using optical devices inserted through the navel to monitor the work as it done. The method is used not only for gallbladder removal but also for appendectomies, hernia operations and a variety of gynecological procedures, Lubock said.

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Lubock left Medstone in September to found Laparomed, an Irvine company that is designing disposable instruments, such as suturing and cutting devices, for laparoscopic surgery. “It is a tremendous opportunity for a small company,” he contends. He said doctors are lining up for training in the technique, and there is a shortage of surgical equipment.

Two venture capital firms, Medicus Venture Partners, of Menlo Park, and Crosspoint Venture Partners, of Irvine, have financed Laparomed. The fledgling company has six employees and on Monday it will get a chief executive officer--Ed McDonald, formerly vice president of sales and marketing for CDI, an Irvine cardiovascular equipment manufacturer. “We will come out with products in about six months,” Lubock promises.


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