Fannin Innovation Studio (www.fannininnovation.com), a commercialization firm that provides integrated funding and direct management of early-stage life science startups, and University of Houston (www.uh.edu), a Carnegie-recognized Tier 1 research university, have formed GuidaBot, LLC. GuidaBot is developing a robotic manipulator designed to work within the powerful magnetic field of an MRI, allowing physicians to perform interventions using real-time MRI imaging for absolute precision.
GuidaBot’s force transmission mechanism and proprietary software component allow patients to remain in place within the MRI machine allowing for faster and more precise biopsy procedures. Currently, MRI-guided biopsy procedures call for the patient to be removed from the machine before placement of the needles can be made, increasing procedure time and costs.
“The company will initially focus on medical applications to treat several conditions, but interest from the energy industry has helped identify additional opportunities,” said Fannin managing partner Atul Varadhachary, M.D., Ph.D.
The technology was invented by University of Houston robotics expert and Director of the Medical Robotics Laboratory Dr. Nikolaos V. Tsekos. Backed by a $1.4 million National Science Foundation grant, research for the robotic system has been conducted in partnership with Houston Methodist.
“Excluding medical schools, University of Houston is the Number One public university in the United States for licensing revenues. We are delighted to partner with Fannin Innovation Studio to bring this technology to widespread application,” said Dr. Richard Willson, UH Associate Vice President for Technology Transfer.
The licensing deal comes just months after Fannin raised $7.3 million in a private offering of Class A units to expand its portfolio. Fannin expects to co-found 15 more portfolio companies within the next five years and currently manages the development of a variety of medical technologies.
Fannin principals and accomplished bioengineers Chris Durst, Ph.D., and Michael Heffernan, Ph.D., will lead the GuidaBot research and development activities.