Stroke is the second most common cause of death and the number one cause of long-term disability globally. One in four adults over 25 years old will suffer a stroke during their lifetime. There have been numerous significant advances in the treatment of stroke, both pharmaceutically and mechanically. For mechanical interventional treatments, which have shown clear clinical benefits over pharmaceutical-only approaches in certain patient groups, the doctor physically removes the blood clot from the patient’s brain. These are highly specialized, difficult, and delicate procedures.
With Nanoflex, researchers from ETH Zurich have developed a soft robotic system that precisely inserts specially made catheters deep into the brain. These new types of catheters are softer, more maneuverable, safer, and easier to use than anything currently available. The technology can simplify and shorten procedure time and reduce the risk of accessing the brain for interventional stroke treatment.
The physicians operating this soft robotic system are not required to stand by the patient during the procedure, which dramatically reduces their x-ray exposure. It is even possible for the physician controlling the robot to treat patients remotely. As a result, patients can be treated in local hospitals rather than being transferred to larger, specialized centers. This is particularly important for ischemic stroke treatment, as the longer it takes to remove the clot after it forms, the more damage may be caused to brain tissue.
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Christophe Chautems studied mechanical engineering at ETH Zurich. Between September 2009 and June 2011, he was involved in a research project at NASA Ames and at the European Space Agency, where he strengthened his knowledge in autonomous planetary rover navigation. He then joined Aeon Scientific to develop an electromagnetic navigation system to steer a catheter for cardiac arrhythmia ablations. He joined MSRL in June 2016 with the intention of shaping the future of magnetic navigation technology for applications in the medical field, and to support MSRL with his experience in designing robotic medical devices.
Matt Curran has worked in the medical device industry in commercial and business leadership positions for over twenty years, most recently as the Vice President for Medtronic’s Cranial and Spinal business for Europe, Middle East and Africa. In that role he ran the sales, marketing, health economics and reimbursement, field service, and business operations functions, a total operation of around 800 people. Matt has a working knowledge of most of the major commercial areas of the medical device industry with a special interest in the launch of new and breakthrough platform technologies, which most recently include being the commercial lead for Medtronic’s first surgical robotics systems sold in Europe. Matt has a degree in Biology & Biochemistry for the University of Wales and an MBA from The University of Edinburgh Management school.
Matteo De Donatis
Senior System Engineer
Matteo De Donatis has more than ten years’ experience as a startupper, leading the development of a novel wearable insulin delivery system from its very conception to V&V. In his previous role as Chief Product Officer, Matteo went about building a development team, and was responsible for the management of external stakeholders involved in the process. Most recently he assisted with the transformation of such delivery device into a drug delivery platform, tackling new system architectures and user-acceptance studies for varied therapy regimens. Matteo joined Wyss Zurich in September 2021 as a Principal System Engineer for Nanoflex, where he will drive all risk management and analysis activities, and lead the project for the development of magnetically steerable distal access catheters. Matteo studied Design & Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Milan.
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BD and Strategy
Grace Katzschmann has close to a decade of experience building medical and healthcare start-ups. Following a PhD in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program, she founded a interdisciplinary platform to create assistive and functional apparel for people with disabilities as a passion project. She then honed her venture creation skills at a publicly traded Boston biotechnology fund, PureTech Health, where she de-risked and brought early-stage scientific concepts to life. Following that, she jumped aboard resTORbio, a late-stage clinical company where she led non-clinical operations and supported commercial and business development functions. She moved to Switzerland in 2020 with her independent consulting company before joining Nanoflex Robotics in late 2021, where she leads their business development, strategy and usability engineering functions.
Norman Pedrini joined Wyss Zurich in July 2021 as Systems Engineer for Nanoflex. During his studies he worked on different project such as SUNCAR, VariLeg and LEC ALPS II. In his Master’s Thesis in 2017 at the Multi-Scale Robotics Lab of ETHZ, he developed the first prototype of a movable electro-magnetic navigation system for improving minimally invasive surgery. The system proved to be a success and at the conclusions of his studies he worked as engineer at MSRL for further improving it into the actual system Navion. At NanoFlex his work on the Navion system continues translating the results obtained at the Lab in a commercial system.
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Julian Stiefel joined the Wyss Zurich project Nanoflex in July 2021. He is a mechanical engineer with a passion for robotics, autonomous systems, medical engineering and software development. He received his M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in Robotics from ETH Zurich. For his master thesis at the Autonomous Systems Lab, Julian focused on the localization of mobile robots on construction sites and the detection of building deviations. During his studies, he developed the electronic hardware and software for the kinematic control of an intravitreal injection robot at Ophthorobotics and worked on new applications of sensors for the automotive industry at Sensirion. Julian joined the Multi-Scale Robotics Lab as a software engineer in 2019 to bring new, minimally invasive surgical procedures to the market and continues his work at Nanoflex Robotics.
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Silvia Viviani joined Wyss Zurich in August 2021 as a Robotics Engineer for Nanoflex. She graduated from the Robotics Master’s program at ETH Zurich, during which she investigated the fields of micro and nanorobotics and their applications to the medical environment. For her master thesis at the Multi-Scale Robotics Lab, she developed a platform for robotic Spina Bifida surgery, designing and controlling a set of minimally invasive catheters for increasing the surgeon’s dexterity and precision during the fetal procedures. Silvia also worked at ABB Future Labs in 2020, where she applied machine learning and computer vision algorithms for gesture recognition, with the goal of making the human-robot interaction more intuitive. Currently, she is working on the design and manufacturing of the soft and maneuverable catheters developed by Nanoflex Robotics for neuroradiology interventions.
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