Ruijin: Focusing on Single-Port Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgical Robots

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Under the monopoly of Da Vinci’s 20-year patent for surgical robots, domestic surgical robots are like an iceberg submerged under the water, with only a corner exposed. With the expiration of the patent of Da Vinci surgical robot, domestic surgical robots are racing to emerge, and a hundred flowers bloom, stimulating the continuous development of the industry, and Ruijin Technology is one of them.

The difference is that the breakthrough made by Ruijin Technology in surgical robots is not a continuation of traditional surgical robot technology, but an innovation in concept and technology.

Mr. Xu Jiaming obtained a bachelor’s degree in information management and a master’s degree in finance from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and a master’s degree in finance from Tsinghua University. Mr. Xu, who is also the investment director of Eagle Eye and an investment consultant for many investment companies, has a broad investment vision and is currently the University of Hong Kong A guest lecturer in financial engineering at SPACE China Business School. His past investment experience and the students he taught have learned that domestic medical technology is relatively backward, medical equipment is expensive and not advanced overseas, and the penetration rate is extremely low, especially third-tier There is still a lot of market space in fourth-tier cities or smaller.

At the same time, he learned that Associate Professor Guo Jiawei had developed a gastrointestinal endoscopic surgery robot system in the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Hong Kong, and was preparing to start animal testing. He believes that the technology is not only almost in shape, the robotic system needs to be smaller than the Da Vinci surgical robot, but also simplifies the surgical process, reduces medical costs, and can benefit the public. Mr. Xu has a unique vision, and his partner, Professor Guo Jiawei, the founder of Ruijin Technology, carries out commercial development for his project to break through the technical barriers of the industry.

Professor Guo has more than ten years of experience in research and development of surgical robots; he graduated from the Department of Mechanical and Automation Engineering of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, participated in the research and development of the first Chinese calligraphy robot, and studied for a Ph.D. at the Hamlin Surgical Robot Research Center of Imperial College, London. After the endoscope was controlled, he went to Harvard Medical School as a Croucher Fellow to study MRI surgical robots. During his tenure at the University of Hong Kong, he also developed a number of MRI surgical robot prototypes, including the world’s first MRI navigation robot for bilateral stereotactic neurosurgery.

So far, Professor Guo has published nine international patents, and has collaborated with more than 40 clinical medical scholars and 80 engineering scholars to publish a total of 105 journal papers, conference papers and books, and has won awards at many top international robotics conferences. The research results of Professor Guo’s team have received a lot of attention, attracting dozens of media reports on related research and development results. Among them, the patented technology of hydraulic drive motor that can be used safely in the MRI surgical environment has been licensed, and Yu Ruijin Technology is engaged in the commercialization of MRI surgical robot parts.

In recent years, Professor Guo has shifted his research focus to the field of endoscopic surgical robots. The endoscopic surgical robot system is its first “return” project.

Looking back on more than ten years of scientific research experience, Professor Guo sensibly said to Artery Network that the experience of the calligraphy robot developed during his undergraduate period has become its advantage in technology accumulation: “It is easy to say that robots write calligraphy, but there are actually many difficulties. , Because writing calligraphy requires dexterity and different force control, which is very difficult for robots.” The exquisite stroke outline of calligraphy happens to have many similarities with the fine movements required by endoscopic surgery robots. Applying the previous experience of calligraphy robots to endoscopic surgical robots will definitely be able to solve the pain points of current technology.

As Mr. Xu Jiaming said, although the success rate of Da Vinci surgical robot is as high as 99%, there are still three major problems:

First of all, the Da Vinci surgical robot is expensive, the pre-investment amount is huge, and the market share of China is less than that of Europe and America;
Second, the Da Vinci surgical robot uses technology from the 1980s. The products are large and heavy. Many operations that need to be completed in a small space are very difficult to operate. The Da Vinci surgical robot lacks precision and flexibility;
Thirdly, as a typical laparoscopic surgical robot, it does not cover all areas of focus surgery, especially upper gastrointestinal surgery;

Behind the pain point is also an opportunity. Ruijin Technology has aimed at this pain point and launched a digestive endoscopic surgical robot system that enters the human body through the oral cavity. The system uses a flexible manipulator to achieve minimally invasive, miniaturized, and refined treatment, filling the blank market in the field of Da Vinci surgical robots.

The digestive tract endoscopic surgery robot system developed by Professor Guo’s team has the following characteristics and advantages:

1. Using a multi-segment flexible continuum structure, the structure is optimized for the narrow surgical environment of endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD), and the robotic arm can be placed into the transmission tool cavity of the endoscope to keep the minimum In the case of a larger volume (diameter <2.8mm), without reducing the required force that can be performed;
2. The telescopic degree of the micro-manipulator is adjustable. It can be equipped with different surgical instruments for different surgical steps (tissue clipping, electrosurgical cutting), so that it has the ability to operate dexterously in a narrow environment; the thickness and size design is more feasible Make adjustments to the surgical category to simplify the design process;
3. The micro robotic arm also has a detachable function similar to the Da Vinci surgical robot. It will be used as a disposable consumable and connected to the robot drive device through a detachable module for easy replacement and use;
4. Compared with the traditional surgical robot system, the controller of the micro-manipulator is small in size and does not need to change the surgical process design. Therefore, the front-end investment cost is much less than that of the traditional surgical robot system; general hospitals and even endoscopy centers are suitable for configuration. Promote the development of endoscopic surgery;

It is not difficult to find that the research conducted by Professor Guo’s team on the digestive tract endoscopic surgical robot system not only eliminates many difficulties that cannot be achieved by traditional surgical robots, but also fills up the current gap in the upper digestive tract field of surgical robots. Surgical robots have brought new inspiration. The research project is aimed at ESD or single port surgery, which is a diagnosis and treatment method for the treatment and prevention of early gastrointestinal (esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum) cancer lesions, opening up new hopes for domestic anti-cancer treatment.

The research team is expected to start animal experimental testing before the end of 2020, and prepare human cadaveric testing in the first half of 2021. Local hospitals and expert doctors in Hong Kong will give guidance and suggestions to the above experiments. At the same time, Professor Guo’s research team can also use the equipment in the medical laboratories of the two major medical schools in Hong Kong, which will speed up the experiment process and the success rate of the experiment. After completing the human cadaver experiment, the research team will start to promote the registration of FDA, NMPA, and CE.

At present, the project is advancing a new round of financing to continue to promote product research and development.

Broad application prospects create indispensable meaning

In the context of an aging global population and a serious shortage of medical personnel in the future, intelligent medical robots will become the most important solution to the imbalance between supply and demand. In the past 4 years, China’s medical robot market has grown more than 10 times.

According to Markets and Markets, a market consulting and research agency, the global medical robot market is expected to exceed US$22.1 billion in 2027, which is more than three times higher than the market size of 6.46 billion in 2018. Surgical robots account for about 60% of them. With the increasing aging of the global population, surgical robots will have a larger market.

As for the more segmented endoscope medical equipment market, my country is expected to maintain a compound growth rate of 10%-20% in the next few years. According to the data from the “Market Potential Analysis and Investment Opportunity Research Report on China’s Domestic Endoscope Medical Equipment Industry for 2019-2025”, the compound annual growth rate of China’s digestive endoscopy consumables from 2007 to 2017 was 19.30%. The annual compound growth rate is calculated, and by 2022, the scale of my country’s domestic mirror diagnosis and treatment equipment market will reach 6 billion yuan.

At present, domestic endoscopy technology is mostly used for inspection or diagnosis, but the endoscopic surgery market is still in the initial stage of development. Most clinical patients have to wait for a long time to receive treatment, and the incidence of gastrointestinal cancer is becoming more common in China. In the face of the 6 billion endoscopic diagnosis and treatment equipment market, the development potential of mechanized surgery cannot be ignored. The endoscopic surgical robot proposed by Professor Guo’s team has a lower cost than the existing surgical robots on the market. Generally, hospitals equipped with endoscopic equipment only need to add a surgical robot controller to mechanize endoscopic surgery; In addition to development, it will make a significant contribution to my country’s medical development process.

Status of domestic gastrointestinal ESD surgery market

From a technical point of view, the miniaturization of surgical robots has become an inevitable trend from laparoscopic interventional therapy to endoscopic natural cavity intervention.

Compared with the technological robots led by Da Vinci surgical robots, the flexible surgical robots used in endoscopes are difficult to develop and have the highest dexterity of the operating arms. Most companies are still in the R&D stage and are far from industrialization. Professor Guo The research team made a breakthrough. In addition, the miniaturization of surgical robots establishes a new definition for mechanical miniaturization of surgical tools for invasive surgery, and promotes the process and development of single port surgery. This is why the breakthrough made by the research team for surgical robots is unique.

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