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Latest news: robotics in pharma

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27 July 2023

UK designers team up with Lebanese biotech to develop ‘human-on-chip’ system

The advent of organ-on-chips transformed disease research, and now DLOC Biosystems is looking to go one step further. The American University of Beirut spin-out wants to connect multiple chips to form an automated human-on-chip system, and it has enlisted the help of 42 Technology to help develop the platform.

Organ-on-chips themselves aren’t that new – the first was successfully created in 2010 at Harvard University – but a lesser-known frontier is the combination of multiple organ models onto a single system.

Over the past decade, organ-on-chips have been used to model a wide range of human diseases and disorders to facilitate research in drug development and explore potential therapies.

There has also been discussion around the technology’s potential to put an end to pre-clinical animal testing.

DLOC and 42 Technology – a Cambridge, UK-based design consultancy – have already been working together in a pre-planning phase over the past year and a half. 42 Technology said that now it has helped DLOC tie down patents protecting the technology, the project is moving into the next phase of development.

DLOC already has microfluidic biochips from existing projects and developed mammary, pancreatic, and renal biometric models. The partnership will aim to connect chips like these together to create an automated human-on-chip system. 42 Technology says research into tissues using this kind of amalgamated model is both more practical and versatile.

DLOC plans to offer the tech via pre-clinical trials-on-chip testing service to pharma companies and contract research organisations (CROs), pointing to the tech’s ability to reduce drug development costs and improve safety in human trials.

It’s not just DLOC that is probing the human-on-chip space. CN Bio, a biotech company from Cambridge, UK, is also developing connected chip systems. DLOC claims its new system, if successfully developed, will be the world’s first human-on-chip to integrate multiple organ models with real-time measurement using in-built spectrophotometry and microscopy.

18 May 2023

Moon Surgical raises $55.4m for robotics system

Moon Surgical has secured $55.4m in venture funding co-led by Sofinnova Partners, through its Sofinnova Capital Strategy, and NVIDIA’s venture capital arm, NVentures. The funding adds to a previous $31.3m Series A funding completed in June 2022.

The financing, which had participation from Dr Fred Moll and Dr Josh Makower, will be used to develop the Paris, France-based company’s robotic surgery system – Maestro.

According to the company, the system, which received FDA clearance in December 2022, “not only changes the scale at which robotics are used but also improves the bottom line for providers and the quality of care for patients.” Maestro augments surgical procedures by aiding surgeons carrying out laparoscopies and is compatible with standard laparoscopic cameras and instruments and offers a more affordable alternative to current robotic options, such as the da Vinci Surgical system.

As part of the deal, Antoine Papiernik, Chairman of Sofinnova Partners, will join Moon Surgical’s board.

The robotics industry is growing at a CAGR of 29% and will be worth $568bn by 2030, according to GlobalData.

“To date, only about 6% of procedures in soft tissue surgery are supported with a robot. We see surgical robotics becoming mainstream in the future as long as the next generation platforms are designed for accessibility and adaptability, like our Maestro,” Anne Osdoit, Moon Surgical CEO and Partner in Sofinnova Partners’ MedTech accelerator, MD Start, told this news service.

“Regulation has been evolving over the past few years with a higher demand for clinical validation and usability testing. It will keep evolving in order to incorporate more and more autonomy thanks to AI and machine learning, in order to augment the surgeon in more tailored and personalised way.”

16 May 2023

Robocath launches robot system for heart surgery

Robocath will launch its new robotic platform, R-One+, for coronary angioplasties at the EuroPCR 2023 conference in Paris. The Rouen, France-based robotics company says the technology will not only reduce radiation-induced injuries but also make procedures safer and easier.

A coronary angioplasty is used to widen blocked or narrowed coronary arteries. Coronary heart disease is a common condition that results from this. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that approximately 20 million adults have coronary heart disease. Although coronary angioplasties are relatively safe, the procedures still carry risks.

The R-One+ has two components: a command unit and the robotic unit itself. The platform allows the cardiologist to control devices from the control command unit which can be positioned in the catheterisation laboratory (cath lab) or in the control room. As Dr. Mohammed Nejjari, interventional cardiologist at the Centre Cardiologique du Nord (CCN) in Saint-Denis, France, explains, the system protects the cardiologist from radiation-induced injuries.

“I was able to perform several robotic angioplasties from the control room, where I was completely shielded from X-rays and could dispense with my lead apron,” Dr Nejjari said. “I also benefited from the excellent visibility on the radioscopy and hemodynamic monitoring screens.”

The robotic unit consists of the robot and its articulated support arm, with millimeter precision. Professor Michael Haude, interventional cardiologist at the Lukaskrankenhaus Hospital in Neuss, Germany, believes that robotics can play a significant part in advancing cardiovascular medicine.

“I firmly believe that robotics has a major role to play in the transformation of interventional cardiology and the use of this technology will mark a new chapter in the history of our field,” said Haude.

The robotics industry is growing at a CAGR of 29% and will be worth $568bn by 2030, according to GlobalData. Whilst exoskeletons and industrial robots lead the charge, medical robots occupy the lower end of CAGR. However, within the healthcare industry itself, robotics is one of the fastest areas of growth – the robotic medical devices market will be worth $14.5bn by 2030.