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Virtual Incision’s miniature robotic-assisted surgery (RAS) platform MIRA will be heading to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2024. MIRA will be testing its skills in space by simulating activities performed in surgery.
MIRA will work inside a microwave-sized experiment locker, performing tasks like cutting simulated tissue and manipulating small objects. The miniature platform weighs around 2 lbs, making it ideal for the tight spaces typical of a space mission.
“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. “Working with NASA aboard the space station will test how MIRA can make surgery accessible in even the most faraway places.”
MIRA is currently in the final stages of its U.S. clinical trial under an Investigational Device Exemption to support U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) market authorization. The system is not available for sale yet.
The robotic platform is able to obtain full-quadrant access without needing to dock and re-dock an external platform. Instead, it’s inserted through a single port, and held in place with an adjustable stand that attaches to an operating room table.
Unlike many other RAS platforms, MIRA can be cleaned and sterilized between cases without any special equipment. The platform includes MIRA, a surgeon console and a companion cart.
“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,” Shane Farritor, co-founder and chief technology officer at Virtual Incision, said. “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.”
The project is driven by a grant NASA awarded to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where Farritor serves as a professor of engineering, though the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Farritor led research about the potential for the use of surgical robots in space. He co-founded the company with Dmitry Oleynikov MD.