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J&J and Google partner to build surgical robots

Published on 30/03/15 at 10:45am
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The medical device subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson Ethicon is to collaborate with Google to build surgical robots and perform keyhole operations.

The agreement sees the two companies work on advancing surgical robotics in order to benefit surgeons, patients and health care systems they say.

New Jersey-based Ethicon manufactures surgical sutures and wound closure devices, and boasts a market share of around 80% in the US.

“This collaboration with Google is another important step in our commitment to advancing surgical care, and together, we aim to put the best science, technology and surgical know-how in the hands of medical teams around the world,” says Gary Pruden, who is the worldwide chairman of the Global Surgery Group at J&J.

Robotic-assisted surgery uses advanced tech to give surgeons greater control, access and accuracy during procedures. It can also benefit patients by minimising trauma and scarring, according to the companies developing the tech.

Working with the US search giant, Ethicon says it will seek to develop the tools and capabilities for surgeons that integrate new medical device technology with leading-edge robotic systems, imaging and data analytics.

This is Google’s latest foray into healthcare which over the last year or so has invested greatly in various deals with pharma firms. A collaboration announcement in January saw the enterprise team up with US biotech Biogen Idec to study multiple sclerosis (MS).

The two businesses will study the environmental and biological contributors that lead to MS, a neurological condition which affects around 100,000 people in the UK.

What’s more, only last week Google filed a patent application for a new cancer-fighting wearable device which it says targets the cells in the blood that contribute to causes of the disease.

Google will work with the World Intellectual Property Organization to develop the Nanoparticle Phoresis device, which is hoped can transform or terminate enzymes, hormones, proteins or cells in the blood that have an adverse health effect on people.

The gadget works by transmitting energy such as a radio frequency pulse or an infrared or visible light signal into the blood vessels.

Today’s transaction between the search engine business and J&J is expected to close during the second quarter of 2015.

Tom Robinson

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