Two Canadian medical robotics companies, IMRIS Inc. (NASDAQ: IMRS) (TSX: IM) and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (TSX:MDA), have announced an agreement for the final phases of collaborative development of IMRIS’s MR-guided surgical robot, building on the development work the two companies have completed to date.
IMRIS and MDA began work on a robotic surgery system in 2010 with the goal of commercialization. The system is being designed initially to perform microsurgery and biopsy-stereotaxy applications on the brain with sub-millimeter precision by bringing the capabilities of surgical robotics together with real time MR imaging in a fully integrated IMRIS surgical suite under the full control of the neurosurgeon. Ultimately, the technology is expected to extend into a broad range of surgical applications.
The system features two robotic arms that can manipulate MR-compatible tools at a microscopic level from a remote workstation. The surgeon sees detailed three-dimensional images of the brain and the surgical tools, and uses hand controllers equipped with enhanced touch sensation that allow the surgeon to feel tissue through the robotic arms and surgical tools and apply appropriate pressure as they operate.
A clinical trial utilizing the first generation of the robot on a cohort of 120 patients is currently taking place, led by Garnette Sutherland, MD, Professor of Neurosurgery, at Calgary’s Foothills Hospital. The first public demonstration of IMRIS’ robotic technology will be at the Congress of Neurological Surgeons in Washington, D.C., where Dr. Sutherland will share his experiences on October 3 and 4, 2011 with delegates visiting the IMRIS booth.
Under the terms of the multimillion dollar agreement, MDA is IMRIS’s development and preferred manufacturing partner for image-guided surgical robotics. The two companies have made significant progress in advancing the new IMRIS image guided surgical robotic system toward commercialization. Given current development plans, IMRIS anticipates being in a position to seek regulatory approval as early as the second quarter of 2012.