Like many successful medtech entrepreneurs and Ferolyn Fellows, Shreya Mehta has a passion and knack for building and finding solutions to challenging and unsolved problems — skills which led her to co-found and launch Zenflow.
The startup, where she is currently CTO, is developing a better treatment for nearly 400 million men worldwide who suffer from urinary obstruction due to an enlarged prostate.
A passion for life sciences
Since she was a young child, Shreya was naturally drawn to taking things apart and seeing how they worked. While she felt like an “engineer,” she found a particular interest in life sciences as she felt there was much to learn and many areas that were still largely misunderstood.
She thus pursued a master’s in bioengineering from the University of Pittsburgh, and while there worked in the Medical Center’s Artificial Heart Program as part of a team responsible for patients who were on mechanical cardiac support. She also participated in an independent study program that focused on artificial heart valves, part of which included designing an instrument to place artificial valve tissue into a bioreactor.
This expertise in cardiovascular biomechanics caught the attention of the FDA, and she was recruited as a scientific reviewer of medical heart valves and artificial hearts. The position leveraged her technical skills and provided excellent experience and a window into the regulatory processes as companies brought their life-improving devices to market.
Building her own company
Following her stint at the FDA, Shreya was ready for a shift in her career and a return to her “building” roots that would satisfy her desire to solve unmet clinical needs first-hand. She was selected into the Stanford Biodesign program, where she met her eventual company co-founder, Nick Damiano. As part of the fellowship, the group spent time finding and evaluating clinical needs in the areas of urology and nephrology, and it became immediately obvious that they had an unparalleled opportunity to dramatically improve the treatment of enlarged prostates.
As they age, the majority of men will develop a larger prostate, which can lead to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a condition that causes uncomfortable urinary problems, sleep disruption and potential kidney, urinary tract or bladder complications.
Despite its prevalence and significant impact on quality of life, current treatments are minimal – drugs, which have limited effectiveness, and surgery, which carries the potential risk of side effects and is not always successful in treating the condition.
Upon graduating from Stanford Biodesign, Nick and Shreya launched Zenflow to provide a minimally invasive, patient-friendly solution for men suffering from BPH. In true Silicon Valley fashion, they built their initial prototypes in a garage and quickly gained interest from several small investors. Their device, the Zenflow Spring System, is a permanent, flexible implant with minimal profile, which can be implanted in a simple, office-based procedure.
An early clinical trial has indicated that the Zenflow Spring System exceeds the outcomes of current therapies. The company is currently preparing for larger CE and FDA trials.
Joining the Ferolyn Fellowship brings her full circle
Not surprisingly, Shreya was nominated by several professionals for the Ferolyn Fellowship. Not only did she have the privilege of meeting Ferolyn while she was at Stanford, but coincidentally, she was on the review team for Evalve, the company Ferolyn formed.
Shreya is very excited about the Fellowship and eager to focus on the big picture of her career. “When working at a startup, everything moves so fast that you are constantly focusing on the company moving forward,” she said. “I feel very fortunate to have Angela Macfarlane, CEO of ForSight Labs and experienced medtech entrepreneur, as my mentor, along with access to a whole cohort of experienced professionals who can provide invaluable insight into how I can expand my career.”