The world-class technology SynDaver featured on Shark Tank episode May 8th, 2015, began when Dr. Chris Sakezles was in graduate school. An engineer by education, he started his company as a medical device developer.
“Whenever you are developing any kind of medical device for human use in the United States you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to prove safety and efficacy. In order to do that you do ‘simulated use testing.’ Over the years for whatever reason, it was always understood – in the end you were always going to test on a pig, a sheep, a bunny – to prove the device does what it is supposed to do.”
That is not always the best way to do it.
“First of all – you are not developing devices to work in an animal. You are developing them to work in people. Engineers are constrained by reality. Every testing needs to employ some type of model. In the medical industry – it was some type of animal. And that is the way it has been.”
It’s what I was taught to do when I was coming up.
Dr. Sakezles needed to test an endotracheal tube to see whether it was going to be efficacious or not. He was taught to use animals in his testing but did not have the funds to run an animal study. They are horribly expensive – not because the cost of the animal – but because of all the administrative costs that go on top of it.
“There is a committee that you have to write a test protocol for. Then there are the veterinary costs and a lot of people that have to be involved that rapidly drive up the cost of even a simple animal study”
Out of necessity he ended up developing a model trachea that he could test on – a small and simplified portion of the eventual synthetic human. This was the beginning of a new way to manufacture synthetic human body parts for the medical device industry.
Comparing the Cost of Using Animals and Cadavers to Syndaver.
“You effect change by providing viable alternatives to the behavior you are trying to limit. If you want to stop animal studies – that change is only going to be driven by alternatives such as SynDaver.”
Dr Sakezles explains the complex cost analysis of using animals and cadavers to that of Syndaver:
“On the anatomy side – Syndaver takes the place of animals and human cadavers.
There is a school in northern Iowa that just bought four Syndavers so they could learn about human anatomy without having to dissect cats.
On the human anatomy side of training, the Syndaver will replace human cadavers at nursing schools, two-year schools, and four-year schools. Some high schools are getting the opportunity of to have this high-end anatomy training because of the availability of Syndaver. They could never hope to have a cadaver before, not because cadavers themselves are expensive but because of the multi-million dollar facility you must have to house a cadaver.
The caveat is not only do you have to pay the exorbitant transportation cost and disposal costs, you have to have multi-million dollar facilities to house them and special staff to care for them and the associated biohazard risks. With Syndaver’s, you can plop it on your kitchen table, or store it in your bathtub or swimming pool and not worry about it.
Ultimately Syndaver will be at every two-year school, high school that has medical, nursing anatomy, sports science, kinesiology training.
Anything that requires learning about the human body can benefit from one of these Syndavers.
The basic model is a $40,000 but the cost of a human cadaver pales in comparison. Plus the cadaver is something the school is going to have forever.
In terms of comparing it to an animal – unless you are in a veterinary school the experience is vastly superior – because it is human, not animal anatomy.”
What makes it so powerful?
The Syndaver model – is a body model. It’s a huge 3D jigsaw puzzle, when it needs service you take off parts that are bad and put on parts that are good. It’s assembled by people the same way cars are. It’s the same general type of thing. Its just happens to be body parts instead of mechanical parts.
Dr. Chris Sakezles: Making A Difference in this World
Dr. Chris is saving lives thru education. His technology gives surgeons, nurses, trauma personnel the freedom and ability to operate on a synthetic human and get results that are as infinitesimally close to being human without sacrificing a human being.
“I think that as word gets out and we are going to develop more and more and better models we are going to get even better at that we are at it now.”
“One of the things that that is important to my staff. They know that they are making a difference in the world. When you are having a bad day – that is one more thing that can get you up in the day. Especially if you could be make more money somewhere else – doing something else – as I could be. It makes you feel good about what you are doing.”
Doctors and nurses have traced their success in treating patients to the superior education they have received by practicing procedures on his Syndaver models.
Dr. Sakezles employs a wide variety of people: chemists, physicists and engineers, artists and people with job experience.
“I go out and look for people that are good people and good problem solvers and hard workers. If you have all theses things you can do just about anything.”
A Canine Syndaver
There is a lot of things that Dr. Chris wants to develop. He follows market need. Probably the very first canine model would be a German shepherd. It would have a similar quality model to the synthetic human model that was on Shark tank. It will be for training military medic and police dogs. Police dogs and military dogs get injured in the field.
These teams have people that are responsible for treating these dogs when they are injured. These animals are important to national security so there is money potentially money behind that kind of effort to develop that kind of model.
Syndaver will save a lot of animal and human lives,
and do a lot of good in the world
After the Shark Tank episode aired, Robert Herjavec pulled out of the deal. This is blessing in disguise: many more investors with better terms have contacted Dr. Chris Sakezles and he is sifting through all the inquires to find the best terms for his company. The sky is the limit for Dr. Chris – he is going to save a lot of animal’s lives, a lot of people’s lives and do a lot of good in the world.