Lincoln, Nebraska-based Virtual Incision received a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to use the miniaturized robotic-associated surgery (RAS) platform on the 2024 technology demonstration mission.
MIRA includes a small, self-contained surgical device inserted through a single midline umbilical incision in the patient’s abdomen, allowing for complex, multi-quadrant abdominal surgeries utilizing existing minimally invasive tools and techniques that are familiar to surgeons.
The platform received IDE approval in October 2020, followed by approval for an IDE supplement in April. In November 2021, Virtual Incision completed a $46 million Series C financing round to support the robotic surgery platform.
It weighs approximately 2 pounds and fits within the tight spaces and mass requirements of a long-duration space mission. Once aboard the ISS, MIRA will operate inside a microwave-oven-sized experiment locker and perform activities that simulate those used in surgery, such as cutting simulated tissue and manipulating small objects.
“The Virtual Incision MIRA platform was designed to deliver the power of a mainframe robotic-assisted surgery device in a miniaturized size, with the goal of making RAS accessible in any operating room on the planet,” John Murphy, CEO of Virtual Incision, said in a news release. “Working with NASA aboard the space station will test how MIRA can make surgery accessible in even the most faraway places.”
NASA awarded its grant to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln through 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 may be beneficial during missions measured in months and years,” said Shane Farritor, co-founder and CTO at Virtual Incision. “MIRA continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible in RAS, and we are pleased with its performance so far during clinical trials. We’re excited to take it a step further and help identify what could be possible in the future as space travel is becoming more of a reality for mankind.”