An interview with Jian Zhang, founder of robotics company Noah Medical

Steven Loeb · May 9, 2023 · Short URL:

Noah Medical, which has developed a robotics system for detecting lung cancer, recently raised $150M

The use of robots in medicine is not new: there will be over 1,500 surgical robots in use  currently and the global healthcare robotics market is projected to reach $35.2 billion by 2023.

However, this technology is still emerging, meaning there will still be unmet need and problems not being solved. That is where Noah Medical comes in: it works with clinicians to fill those gaps and develop robotics to help solve them.

The company's first robotic platform, the Galaxy System, is designed to improve location accuracy and successful diagnosis of lung nodules using its TiLT+ Technology

Last month, it announced a $150 million Series B funding round of funding last month led by the Softbank Vision Fund and the Prosperity7 Ventures, along with Tiger Global, and existing investors including Hillhouse, Sequoia China, Shangbay Capital, Uphonest Capital, Sunmed Capital, Lyfe Capital, 1955 Capital, AME cloud ventures, as well as undisclosed strategic investors.

Jian Zhang, PhD, Noah Medical founder and CEO, spoke to VatorNews about the gaps in the medical robotics space, why the company started with lung cancer, and how it will be using that $150 million in funding. 

VatorNews: What is the problem that you identified? What led you to found Noah Medical?

Jian Zhang: Noah was founded in 2018 to provide better clinical value to customers who were unhappy or poorly served by the earlier generation of medical robots. We work with physicians to identify unmet needs and then create a next generation of medical robots using the latest technologies that specifically solve these problems. Our first robotic platform is the Galaxy System, designed to address current system shortcomings in diagnosing lung cancer. 

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Data shows that ~2/3 of lesions are in the outer portion of the lungs, making them extremely hard to navigate and biopsy. 

Today, most physicians rely on CT scans taken prior to a procedure as their primary source of lesion location information. However, there can be a significant divergence between the images on a scan and the location of the lesions in the body during the actual procedure. Additional advanced imaging technologies must be deployed during the procedure to help combat this problem. 

Lastly, because of the complexity and cost of current systems for lung bronchoscopy and advanced imaging technologies, few clinics and hospitals can deploy these together. 

VN: How are you solving that problem with the Galaxy System? What are you doing that others are not? 

JZ:  By integrating real-time navigation and using a novel tool-in-lesion technology, the system brings everything together in one easy to use, compact solution. Early animal data published in March of 2023,  suggests that the Galaxy System with its TiLTTechnology can achieve 100% successful navigation to lesion, 100% diagnostic yield and 95% tool-in-lesion accuracy, without the need for additional expensive imaging technologies. The Galaxy System is designed to allow physicians to find, biopsy and diagnose lesions with confidence 

The Galaxy System also offers a single-use, disposable bronchoscope. This scope was designed to help reduce the risk of cross-contamination and patient infection, reduce reprocessing time and cost while also improving procedural workflow. 

VN: Walk me through how pulmonologists use your platform. 

JZ: A pulmonologist will use our system to navigate out to the periphery of the lung, where the lung nodule is located. Using TiLT Technology, the doctor will be able to get a real time update of the lesion to ensure they are in the correct location. They will then place their tool inside the lesion and use TiLT again to confirm that their tool is indeed inside. This is to help improve the chances that they will get lesion tissue in the tool and a positive diagnosis. Other current robots on the market do not have this advanced imaging technology built into their platforms and therefore would not be able to get these real-time image updates and confirmations without buying additional expensive imaging technologies 

VN: Why did you start with bronchoscopy? What other indications can the Galaxy System potentially be used for?

JZ:  Bronchoscopy was one of the more urgent needs for physicians we spoke with early in our development cycle and the problem of lung cancer is so pervasive. There were also clear gaps in the current technologies that existed on the market to biopsy and diagnose lung nodules.  

We are developing endoluminal robotic products that fill other urgent and compelling gaps in the clinical market, but we cannot provide specifics at the moment. 

VN: What kind of ROI have you seen so far from your first-in-human trials at Macquarie University Hospital? Do you have hard numbers you can share?

JZ:  We cannot share the unpublished data at this time but hope to present and publish as soon as possible.

VN: How will you deploy this funding? Will it go towards hiring or product development? Please give as much detail as you can.

JZ:  Noah intends to use the funds to expand adoption of their Galaxy System and accelerate R&D for other non-invasive platforms for patient diagnosis and treatment.

VN: What is your ultimate goal with Noah Medical? What will success look like for you?

JZ: Our mission is to deliver adoptable clinical solutions through innovative endoluminal technologies to enhance the quality of life for patients globally. 

Our vision is to become the global leader in endoluminal innovation by improving outcomes for 500,000 patients by 2032. We want to build Noah to thrive for over 99 years.

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