Israeli medical devices company XACT Robotics, controlled by MEDX Ventures Group, has raised $5 million from its existing shareholders. XACT has developed a robot for navigation and steering of medical tools within the body. The company has raised $15 million to date.
This technology is suitable for a variety of procedures requiring the insertion of a thin device at a precise point deep within the body, such as in biopsies, injection of drugs into internal organs, ablations (precise cauterization of tissue within the body), drainage within the body, etc.
"The system includes a hand-sized robot which is placed on the patients and utilizes imaging from various imaging systems, such as CT scans and ultrasound, to navigate and steer the device to the correct location within the patients. The robot itself moves the medical tool," explains XACT founder and chairperson Harel Gadot, who also chairs MEDX. "It is suitable for all procedures in which medical tool (including a biopsy needle and other tools) passes through the skin while being navigated by imaging. The system has passed preclinical trials in large animal per regulatory requirements. All the cases were completed successfully with precision of under 1.5 millimeters - far greater than what is needed."
Gadot says, "The robot is able to constantly compare the location of the tool to the target location on the image received in real time. It calculates the direction and the precise movement that should be made, while taking into account the tissue's actual response and the tool's response and making adjustments, including in real time. Human beings are incapable of doing this because they depend on processing of what they see on the screen together with what they feel. This is especially true when soft tissue is involved; coordinating both is not always precise, which frequently requires removal and reinsertion of the tool, causing damage to the tissue and often failing to reach the treatment point inside the body with the necessary and optimal accuracy."
XACT recently obtained marketing approval in Europe and expects to obtain marketing approval in the US towards the end of the year.
The company has developed a robotic system that operates in coordination with the existing ablation systems. It plans to also develop its own ablation system through collaboration with an Israeli startup that will be customized to work with the robot in order to offer a complete solution and create greater differentiation in this sector. "As of now, we're capable of inserting any surgical tool currently on the market," Gadot emphasizes.
Launching of products is scheduled for 2019, with the company establishing seven Centers of Excellence in leading medical centers in the US, Europe, and Israel, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by the end of this year. The first Center of Excellence was recently established and successfully completed the first four human cases treated in it.
"Globes": How does the idea of your robot differ from that of Mazor Robotics' back surgery robot, for example or the intra-body navigational systems of companies like SuperDimension and Corindus Vascular Robotics?
Gadot: "First of all, Mazor's product is designed solely for the spinal and neurosurgery procedures, while our product is designed to treat any organ in the body, including the spinal, although we're focusing right now on organs in the abdominal cavity. The main difference between us and Mazor is that their robot provides directions on how to insert a medical tool, but the doctor actually inserts it. With us, the robot both provides the directions, navigates and steers the actual insertion of the medical tool."
The doctor does have a role in XACT's system. He has to approve in advance the planned trajectory for the medical tool that the robot will actually follow and must also approve the progress in the robot's insertion of the medical tool, while making sure that the tool stays in the trajectory confirmed by the doctor during provedure.
"SuperDimension and Corindus are systems that guide the doctor on how to navigate with the tool within the body," Gadot says, "when you insert through natural openings in the body, such as through bronchus into the lungs. XACT's system inserts the medical tool through the skin. In a biopsy or ablation of the lungs, for example, the right location can be reached through the bronchus in only 50% of the cases. In all of the other cases, a system is needed that is capable of reaching the lungs through the skin. In addition, Corindus and SuperDimension are systems that enable the doctor to guide the tool to the desired location. What is special about our systems is that the XACT robot itself does the navigation and steering under the supervision of a doctor.
"Because of the system's minimal dimensions (a robot weighing one kilogram) and its ability to use different imaging systems, the system can be used in different treatment environments: imaging suites, clinic, day hospitalization, operating rooms, and in the future we’re also planning on using it remotely in developing markets or in situations where there is a shortage of the appropriate staff."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 10, 2018
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