Investors have contributed $18 million to medical device maker Virtual Incision to help cover the costs of FDA 510(k) submission for its miniature robotically assisted surgical device (RASD). Venture capital firms including Sinopharm Capital, Bluestem Capital and PrairieGold Venture Partners, participated in the series B round.
“Closing this round of financing launches the development of our miniaturized surgical robot toward our next key milestones, including submission to the FDA for market clearance,” said John Murphy, president and CEO of Virtual Incision. “We sincerely appreciate the support from all of our investors, who clearly understand the tremendous potential of our surgical robotics program and provide vital input to our team and company.”
Currently, the majority of colon resection surgeries require an eight- to 12-inch incision and weeks of post-surgery recovery time. Virtual Incision’s RASD weighs just two pounds and is designed to perform the procedure through a smaller incision, potentially reducing recovery time and mitigating the risk of surgical complications.
The medical device company also believes that their RASD will offer improved portability at a reduced cost compared to other laparoscopic surgical devices. The surgical robot incorporates machine learning and artificial intelligence help guide the instruments.
Since the RASD was designed to perform its function while entirely inside the patient’s abdomen, the engineers at Virtual Incision were challenged to make the device small enough to fit through an umbilical incision. Initial designs of their RASD required assembly of robot inside the patient, with later iterations eventually eliminating this need.
“It’s been a miniaturization journey,” Murphy told MD+DI. “So, it’s been this steady journey of continuously optimizing and shrinking and extending these core features of small, dextrous, strong.”
While their no-assembly-required third generation of the device was tested in human clinical trials in 2016, their fourth and current iteration of the device is the one they plan to commercialize. This version of the RASD is smaller than its predecessors, and boasts an enhanced range of motion for abdominal procedures.
“There was tremendous feedback from these minimally-invasive cases as well,” said Murphy of the clinical studies. “What we found was, we needed to be smaller still.”
The integrated camera includes its own light source and is positioned on a flexible tip allowing the surgeon to position the camera wherever it’s needed. Surgeons and other hospital staff are also able to review a wealth of data collected by the surgical device after a procedure to learn how it might be improved.