NASA grant will see Virtual Incision’s surgical robot go into space

[Image from Virtual Incision]

Virtual Incision announced today that its MIRA platform will be used in a technology demonstration aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Virtual Incision, based in Lincoln, Nebraska, received a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to use the miniaturized robotics-associated surgery (RAS) platform during the 2024 Technology Demonstration Mission .

MIRA comprises a small, self-contained surgical device inserted through a single midline umbilical incision in the patient’s abdomen, enabling complex, multi-quadrant abdominal surgeries using existing minimally invasive tools and techniques that are familiar to surgeons.

The platform received IDE approval in October 2020, followed by the approval of an additional IDE in April. In November 2021, Virtual Incision completed a $46 million Series C funding round to support the robotic surgery platform.

It weighs about 2 pounds and fits into the tight spaces and mass requirements of a long-duration space mission. Once aboard the ISS, MIRA will operate inside a microwave-sized experiment locker and perform activities that simulate those used in surgery, such as tissue cutting simulations and manipulation of small objects.

“The Virtual Incision MIRA platform was designed to deliver the power of a central robotic-assisted surgery device in a miniaturized size, with the goal of making RAS accessible in any operating room on the planet. “said John Murphy, CEO of Virtual Incision, said in a press release. “Working with NASA on board the space station will test how MIRA can make surgery accessible even in the most remote locations.”

NASA awarded its grant to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln under the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

“NASA has ambitious plans for long-duration space travel, and it’s important to test the capabilities of technology that can be beneficial on missions measured in months and years,” said Shane Farritor, co-founder and CTO of Virtual Incision. “MIRA continues to push the boundaries of what is possible in RAS, and we are pleased with its performance so far in clinical trials. We are excited to go further and help identify what might be possible in the future as space travel becomes more of a reality for humanity.

Christine E. Phillips