Israeli startup XACT Robotics, which has developed a robot navigational and propulsion needle steering system for surgical tools within the body, has raised $5 million in a round led by investment company MEDX Ventures Group, controlled by CEO Harel Gadot. The financing round, XACT Robotics' second, brings the total amount raised to date by the company to $10 million.
At the same time, the Caesarea based company announced the signing of a research cooperation agreement with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US. The agreement concerns joint development of a second generation of XACT Robotics' product that will be suitable for imaging systems other than CT, for which the product is currently designed.
Gadot, who is also chairman of XACT Robotics, told "Globes" today, "XACT's system is capable of independently guiding any needle into the abdominal cavity. There are already navigational systems capable of setting a path for a needle, but there are still no systems that move the needle by themselves.
"At the beginning of the process, our system is based on imaging photographs, today mainly CT. It charts an optimal path for the needle to pass through without hitting obstacles or damaging health tissue. The doctor looks at the planned path and approves it. The robot then holds the needle outside the body and guides it to the right place, while making very small and rapid movements of which people are incapable in order to verify that the end of the needle is constantly on the path."
The product has undergone animal trials, in which the company showed that it can bring the needle to the right place without damaging essential tissue. This trial will probably be enough to obtain marketing approval for the product towards the end of 2017. Gadot explains that the company will also conduct trials on human beings at three medical centers, but this trial is not required for approval of the product; it is designed to support the company's marketing efforts.
Gadot added that a number of potential strategic partners are interested in cooperation in marketing the product when it is put on the market. He therefore believes that the amount raised is currently enough for the company, despite the strenuous marketing efforts needed to achieve substantial sales of the product in the European market.
XACT Robotics CEO Chen Levin said that completion of the financing round would provide for continued development of the new generations of the product, now that development of the first generation has been completed. He added that the agreement with NIH was strategically important, and that the organization usually cooperates only with US-based companies, but had made an exception in this case.
Gadot and MEDX founded XACT Robotics in 2013 on the basis on technology developed in the robotics laboratories of Prof. Moshe Shoham at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology. Shoham is also the inventor of technologies used by Mazor Robotics Ltd. (Nasdaq: MZOR; TASE:MZOR) and Microbot Medical.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on March 1, 2017
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