The Israeli company, now headquartered in Los Angeles, is developing micro-robots called Bionauts.
The robots can be inserted into the cerebrospinal fluid from the spine — or from behind the skull — and precision guided to organs that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to reach.
Shpigelmacher says that the death of his mother and mother-in-law from cancer is what spurred him on to start a company that would help fight serious, and sometimes incurable, illnesses.
“Plus, all three of us are workaholics anyway,” he laughs, referring to Maizels, who serves as Bionaut Labs’ executive chairman, and Shpunt, the company’s chief science officer.
Shpigelmacher was already acquainted with the world of medical tech. After PrimeSense, he had spent several years working with medical equipment manufacturer Mackenzie Medical Group in the United States, where he still resides.
Bionaut Labs’ first goal is to reach the brain. “The brain is unique because it is inaccessible to medication delivered through the bloodstream,” he explains. “The blood vessels in the brain are lined with a unique property, called the blood-brain barrier, which prevents medication from getting through.”
He adds that the brain is also very sensitive — compared to other body parts — to surgical interventions. As a result, many devastating diseases are considered incurable.
“The illnesses our development would be most useful for are brain cancer, stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson’s and maybe Alzheimer’s.”
“Tumors of 30% of patients whose cancer has metastasized to the liver are unresectable due to the liver’s unique anatomy. But if you could insert something tiny there to serve as a surgical tool, you could operate on the organ,” he says.
“We’re starting with the brain, but in the future, the Bionaut way will take over the market of medical intervention.”
Image - Bionaut Labs