XACT Robotics, an Israeli startup developing novel platform robotic technology for use in minimally invasive procedures has raised $5 million. The latest round of funding was led by MEDX Ventures Group, which founded the firm based on technology from the Technion, the Israel institute of Technology. Private investors accounted for 60% of the sum, while MEDX invested $2 million in the current round.
The Caesarea-based firm developed a robotic system for needle steering, for use in biopsies and ablations, or to inject medications in specific areas of the body. The first application of XACT’s technology will be for biopsies in lung tissue.
MEDX founder Harel Gadot, who also chairs XACT’s board, explained: “Today a doctor decides based on a simulated picture how to insert the needle and then manually makes the puncture in a procedure that has high failure rates - with some half of procedures failing. Even in systems that make use of robotic steering, the robot still bases its calculations on an existing simulated picture when positioning the needle, but the doctor is the one left making the puncture. If, in the meantime, a patient moved even a smidgen, the steering work is irrelevant.”
XACT’s technology, on the other hand, relies on an automated robot that makes use of real time CT data, with the robot continuously adjusting the angle of the needle based on live information that it receives from the CT machine.
Gadot said, “In the last two years we have made certain changes to the system that was developed at the Technion. For example, we realized we needed to be a hardware company and not just a software firm, because the technology can’t simply work with a robot you buy off the shelf, it requires a specialized robot that we design ourselves. We also understood that the simulated image needed to be in 3D, because the world of robotics has moved on from two dimensions.”
Gadot also noted that XACT has signed an agreement with the American National Health Institute to conduct joint trials of their product - first on animals and later on humans - that would, at an advanced stage, include the use of other screening methods aside from the CT machine.
The current round of funding should account for the expenses of the trials, with a certain level of commitment by the firm’s investors for further funding to bridge the financially difficult period between the trial stage until the product is ready to be submitted - and hopefully approved - by the authority for sale.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 9, 2015
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