In the near future, NASA and other space agencies will send astronauts beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for the first time in over 50 years.
But unlike the Apollo era, these missions consist of astronauts spending long periods of time on the Moon, traveling to and from Mars (with months of surface maneuvers in between).
In addition, commercialization of LEO and cis lunar space is also planned. That means millions of people can live in space and surface settlements far beyond Earth.
This poses many challenges, including the possibility that the sick or injured may not be licensed doctors to perform potentially life-saving surgeries.
Fariter studied robotics at MIT and is a David and Nancy Lederer professor of engineering at the University of Nebraska. During his undergraduate years, he worked with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory to support NASA’s Mars Rover (MER) program.
To address this, Professor Shane Fariter of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Nebraska Innovation His Campus (NIC) and his colleagues developed a miniaturized in vivo robot his assistant (MIRA). did. In 2024, this portable, miniaturized, robotic-assisted surgery (RAS) platform will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) for a test mission to assess its ability to perform medical procedures in space.
This consists of Curiosity Rover and Perseverance helping design and assemble his rovers, defining their operating plans, and inventing the process of using the rover’s sun detector to determine its orientation. It was done.
In 2006, a former professor of surgery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), he co-founded Virtual Incision, a NIC-based startup with Dmitry Oleynikov. In April 2022, Farritor was named an inaugural recipient of the University of Nebraska’s Undergraduate IP Innovation and Commercialization Award for Intellectual Property.
For nearly 20 years, Farritor, Oleynikov and colleagues have developed his MIRA robotic surgery suite, which has attracted over $100 million in venture capital. NASA recently awarded Virtual Incision a $100,000 grant through the Department of Energy’s (DoE)-established Competitive Research Stimulus (EPSCoR) program to prepare NIC engineers and roboticists for tests aboard the ISS. Helped to help.
Compared to traditional robotic surgery suites, MIRA has his two advantages. First, the device can be inserted through small incisions, allowing doctors to perform minimally invasive surgeries (such as abdominal surgery and colectomy). Second, the technology has the potential to enable telemedicine, allowing surgeons to operate remotely and provide services away from medical facilities. On Earth, this technology is already enabling doctors to help people in remote areas where medical services are not readily available. However, the MIRA technique has the added advantage of performing surgery autonomously. That means astronauts working on the Moon or Mars can get medical care without the need for a human surgeon.
Said John Murphy, CEO of Virtual Incision, in a recent company press release: “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.
“Working with NASA aboard the space station will test how MIRA can make surgery accessible in even the most faraway places.” During the next year, Farritor will work with engineering graduate student Rachael Wagner to prep MIRA for operations aboard the ISS. Wagner began working with Farritor as an undergraduate student and took a position with Virtual Incision in 2018 after completing her bachelor`s degree in mechanical engineering.
This will consist of writing software, configuring MIRA to fit inside an experiment locker, and testing the device to ensure it is rugged enough to survive being launched aboard a rocket and will function as needed in space. In August 2021, MIRA successfully performed its first remote surgery as part of a clinical study under an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Procedure – Dr. Michael A. Jobst, Bryan Medical Center, Lincoln, Nebraska – It consisted of a right hemicolectomy (removing half of the colon) and was performed with a single incision inside the navel.
“The MIRA platform is truly a breakthrough platform for general surgery and we are very pleased to be the first surgeon in the world to use this system,” said Dr. Jobst. “The surgery has gone well and the patient is recovering well. We look forward to taking the first steps towards broadening access to robotic surgery with clear benefits for patients.”
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