Technion robots solve brain surgery headache

It sounds like the plot from the 1966 science-fiction film Fantastic Voyage: tiny surgeons travelling into a human brain to destroy blood clots without harming the patient. New technology from Israel could make that a reality however, thanks to pioneering developments from Technion – the Israel Institute of Technology.

For many years, brain surgery has been regarded as one of the most difficult challenges in the medical profession. Invasive surgery to remove cancerous cells or blood clots must be performed with incredible precision, as any harm to the surrounding brain tissue can result in life-changing consequences to the patient. Even successful operations can result in losing the ability to walk or talk – an outcome that has to be considered in even the most pressing situations.

This could be about to change, however, thanks to pioneering technology from newly-launched Israeli start-up, Tamar Robotics. Instead of traditional methods, the company is trialing a tiny robotic needle that is inserted via a small incision and then controlled remotely by the surgeon. It can then move harmlessly through the brain before destroying tumours and clots with jets of water.

Tamar Robotics has been co-founded by Professor Moshe Shoham, a professor at Technion, where he started the Kahn Medical Robotics Laboratory. He co-founded it with Dr Hadad Ziso, his former graduate student at the Technion, with the two developing the technology together for 5 years before launching Tamar.

Their partnership is just the latest example of the impact Technion can have. Since 1912, the academic institution has been at the forefront of spearheading Israel’s scientific endeavours. Israel today is the country with the highest percentage of scientists and engineers – and the majority ofthem studied at the Technion, home to three of Israel’s five science Nobel Laureates.

Alan Aziz, CEO of Technion UK, commented: “Technion prides itself on the brainpower it can bring to problems – and few are as challenging as actual brain surgery. Tamar Robotics once again shows how Israel is turning science fiction into science fact.”

Notes to editor about Technion:

The Technion has earned a global reputation for its pioneering work in nanotechnology, life sciences, stem-cell technology, water management, sustainable energy, information technology, biotechnology, materials engineering and aerospace. It is also one of only five similar institutes worldwide that include a medical school, encouraging rapid progress in biotechnology, drug development, and stem-cell technology. As Israel’s centre for high-tech education and research, the Technion is central to the nation’s economic progress. As the premier institute of its kind in the region, Technion breakthroughs can benefit all the nations of the Middle East. As a worldclass research university, the Technion helps advance the frontiers of science and technology to benefit people around the world.