Intuitive Surgical backs lung cancer tech play Broncus


Intuitive Surgical has struck a deal with lung disease technology firm Broncus Medical. The multipart agreement includes a $15 million investment, technology development collaboration and a licensing deal.

Broncus has built its business upon a portfolio of technology platforms that support the diagnosis of lung cancer and treatment of emphysema. These devices provide image guidance to help physicians navigate to sites in the lung. The technology superimposes the physician’s target on live views from inside the body, supporting navigation through the airways.

Intuitive, the dominant force in robot-assisted surgery, is interested in the technology and has signed up to help Broncus advance it. Broncus emerges from the deal with a $15 million series A investment and a technology development collaboration agreement with Intuitive. 

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The agreement also gives Intuitive rights to intellectual property from Broncus. Intuitive will use the IP “in the development of technologies focused on diagnostic and therapeutic lung procedures.”

Such technologies are increasingly important to Intuitive. Following years of work, Intuitive is now closing in on a FDA filing for robotic-assisted, catheter-based technology designed to enable the early diagnosis of lung cancer. The technology helps surgeons enter the lungs via the mouth and gather samples from hard-to-reach parts of the organ. Broncus’ technology is potentially complementary.

The deal comes as Intuitive seeks to strengthen its leadership position in robotic surgery in anticipation of a step up in the level of competition for its core market and the broadening of the procedures in which devices are involved. Lung diseases are central to this strategy.

English-language news of Intuitive’s deal comes two months after China Biotech Services revealed it had invested $5 million in Broncus. The China Biotech-Broncus deal also featured a strategic cooperation component.   

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