Medical devices and robots have been making their way into operating rooms in an increasing number of procedures. Now a new robot is trying to forge its path in the OR and assist surgeons who don't yet have that advantage.
“There are surgeons out there that have really no robotic assistance at all,” said Bruce Lichorowic, CEO of Galen Robotics. “So you have surgeons out there that are doing everything still by hand, using their training to keep their tremor under control to keep themselves stable. Our goal is to see if we can assist them in these areas where there's really no help today.”
The company's first robot aims to assist in soft tissue surgeries. Called Galen ES, it acts as a support for surgeons performing ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeries, particularly laryngeal cancer operations. Swappable instruments follow the surgeon's hand movements but allow the user to take a break if needed. According to Lichorowic, the goal is to gain more clearances to help in other ENT, brain, spine and cardiothoracic procedures.
The Galen ES fills up the space of a person and the company claims it takes no longer than four minutes to set up. While the device is in use, it tracks and records a surgeon's movements to later be used for training purposes.
The product is currently going under FDA review for clinical use approval, which the company said it hopes will come by Q1 or Q2 of 2023. Although the product is under review, a 2019 study showed surgeons who used the device performed better and had close to a 3x boost in manual dexterity.
The Da Vinci surgical system opened the market to adopting surgical robots. Subsequently, other robots have entered the market, addressing general, cardiac and orthopedic surgery needs. According to Galen, its robot will be the first to address neurosurgery and spine surgeries, once clearance is earned.
Image Credits: Galen Robotics
Hospitals adopting the robot must commit to using the device in 200 cases and pay upwards of $1,500 per use. Though, if a hospital wants to flat-out buy the robot they can do so with a cool $350,000.
Surgeons at Stanford, Harvard Medical School, UCSF, USC and Johns Hopkins have expressed interest in the product, according to Galen. The device was originally developed and tested at Johns Hopkins.
Galen has garnered support in the form of a $15 million Series A round from Ambix Healthcare Partners. The company has also opened a second close for its Series A, hoping to raise an additional $5 million.
”We watched this team take an early surgical robotic prototype from Johns Hopkins University’s Robotics Lab, develop it into a potential game changer, and submit it to FDA, all during a pandemic,” said Aaron Berez, managing director of Ambix Healthcare Partners, in a written statement. “Add to that the current state of supply chain issues, and economic uncertainty, and we’re very impressed with how this team was able to consistently execute and hit their milestones.”
This round’s funds will be used to develop a surgeon training program and expand various teams within the company.