December 15, 2016

Verily Life Sciences – formerly known as Google Life Sciences – has partnered with Johnson & Johnson medical devices subsidiary Ethicon to form Verb Surgical Inc. The new company “aims to develop a comprehensive surgical solutions platform that will incorporate leading-edge robotic capabilities and best-in-class medical device technology for operating room professionals”.

Verily CEO Andrew Conrad told WIRED.com that although Verb Surgical represented the Alphabet subsidiary’s first partnership, it won’t be the last. “We expect to work closely with pharma, biotech, medical device and diagnostic companies, patient advocacy groups, and academic researchers in different ways for a long time to come,” he said.

While it’s not entirely clear what Verb Surgical will be developing, there’s some suggestion that the focus will be on robot-assisted technologies to be controlled by human doctors for delicate surgical procedures.

Robot-assisted surgery is currently at the cutting edge of technical development into both autonomous and assistive devices for tasks such as replacing traditional surgical tools and human hands to hold them in position for extended periods, allowing expert surgeons to work remotely via telemanipulation, or giving doctors fine control over minimally-invasive machine-assisted procedures.

Gary Pruden, worldwide chairman of Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices said the Ethicon team, which will be developing surgical instruments for Verb’s robotics-assisted platform, “has already made meaningful progress on the robotics platform, which is being developed for application across a host of surgical specialties”.
Google Life Sciences was officially renamed Verily earlier this week. The company’s previous projects have included glucose-checking contact lenses, disease-detecting nanoparticles and The Baseline Study, which seeks to build a genetic profile of a perfectly healthy human.


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