A business in Mesa described by one executive as a “little secret” has earned accolades for advancing the use of ultrasound technology, which has revealed how broad the range of purpose is for a scientific modality known best for use in obstetrics.
Per its website, Guided Therapy Systems is a company that creates and commercializes ultrasound technology to diagnose and treat diseases, heal injuries and improve upon a person’s appearance. In other words, GTS is using a technology CEO Michael Slayton said was known best for its diagnostic properties to have a physical effect on people with a variety of ailments by diagnosing and treating a disorder with one device.
Ultrasound in general works by having high frequency sound waves and echoes to create an image like a baby in a womb. The technology is of a similar par to echolocation used by sea mammals like dolphins and whales to navigate in the water.
Slayton said the therapeutic aspect comes from concentrating those sound waves and increasing the frequency while focusing on one spot on the body. He said the result is akin to shining sunlight through a magnifying glass and creates a beam capable of destroying spots inside the body.
“The cool part is it penetrates the body without hurting it,” he said.
The company boasts the combination is safer and more precise than other treatments like radiation or lasers, and its applications include the eradication of tumors that cause breast, prostate and kidney cancers, as well as the removal of cellulite and fat cells.
The initial purpose was oncological, but additional research has uncovered additional applications that include non-invasive face lifts completed somewhere between 30 minutes to an hour.
“There’s a whole host of aesthetic applications,” said Vice President of Business Development and Operations Steve Zastrow.
Aside from those applications is a clinical study at the University of Arizona that Slayton said could reveal the ability for ultrasound technology to repair muscle and tendon damage. An example he mentioned is the potential to repair plantar fasciitis — a rather painful injury that strikes across the bottom of the foot.
Treatment for plantar fasciitis is limited to ibuprofen and naproxen, physical therapy and surgery, according to the Mayo Clinic. Slayton though said ultrasound could repair plantar fasciitis within four weeks.
“It’s basically all over the place; it’s a breaking modality, but it offers a lot,” he said.
Slayton said he’s worked with ultrasound technology for many years, first as a diagnostic tool and later as a potential form of breast cancer treatment in the early 1990s. He opened GTS in Mesa in 1994, and has since founded two companies — Ulthera, LLC and Xthetix — to focus on the aesthetic applications and possible home use, respectively.
The company has also accumulated 200 patents involving the devices in the United States and in several foreign markets like Japan and France.
“We have pretty good muscle in R & D,” Slayton said.
His work with ultrasound technology recently garnered him an award from the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery for innovation in the field. In a press statement, Dr. Thomas Rohrer, chair for the ASLMS award committee, said Slayton’s work, “has brought intense therapeutic ultrasound to the forefront of the aesthetic medical device industry.”
For Slayton, the recognition provides a validation for his research and pushes ultrasound technology a step closer to being on par and a viable alternative energy source than laser. It also adds a little more attention to a company that has grown to incorporate prominent partners like Johnson & Johnson and UofA in its operations.
“We’re a little secret in Mesa,” Zastrow said.
“We’re not much of a secret anymore,” Slayton responded.
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