Precision Surgical Interventions

Grant Engine is excited to share that Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) has officially opened up a specific solution for precision surgical interventions

The Big Question

What if surgeries fixed problems flawlessly, the first time?

The Problem

Every year, nearly 2 million Americans are newly diagnosed with cancer. For solid tumors, surgical removal is often the first option. Yet during surgery, it can be difficult to tell where a tumor ends and healthy tissue begins due to a lack of contrast. Multiple surgeries are often required to successfully remove an entire tumor.

Such tissue contrast challenges are not unique to cancer surgeries. Important anatomical structures such as nerves, blood vessels, and lymph ducts look like the normal, surrounding tissue, and are difficult for surgeons to visualize. Avoiding damage to these critical anatomical structures is a pressing problem for all surgeries. Unintended healthy tissue damage can lead to longer hospital stays, re-operation, pain, and potential trauma for patients. Corrective procedures and post-surgical treatment have an estimated total cost of more than $1 billion per year in the U.S.

The Current State

Many surgeries, including oncology, cardiology, and orthopedic procedures, deal with challenges in tissue visualization. Sometimes, during cancer surgeries, parts of the tumor’s edge can be analyzed. This, however, is time-consuming, uncertain, and not available to all patients and for all types of cancer. Detailed medical imaging is also sometimes available before surgery, but there are no tools that let surgeons clearly see nerves, blood vessels, and lymph ducts during the operation.

The Challenge

Precision Surgical Interventions (PSI) aims to help all surgical procedures reach their intended goal with no errors and no need for re-operation. The program aims to develop solutions to two major surgical problems: tumor edge visualization and critical anatomy visualization.

PSI seeks to develop technologies that will be used by surgeons during operations to visualize tumors’ edges, in order to increase chances of complete removal. Solutions may come in the form of bedside devices or devices that image inside the body, and will draw from technical disciplines that include chemistry, microscopy, biomedical engineering, and digital pathology.

PSI also seeks to develop devices that surgeons can use to clearly see critical anatomy in 3D while operating. PSI aims to leverage innovations in chemistry, optics, machine learning, and other disciplines to make sure surgeons can find and avoid hard-to-see nerves, blood vessels, and other structures, even if they are buried under other tissue. These tools promise to help enable surgical success in oncology and beyond.

The Solution

The PSI Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) calls for proposals focused on cancer localization, healthy structure localization, and improving outcomes during surgery. One portion of the BAA focuses on cancer surgeries, while another applies to surgeries for any relevant condition. Teams from different fields with knowledge of oncology, surgery, imaging technology, and other disciplines are invited to apply their expertise to the visualization needs of surgeons, in service of improved patient outcomes.

A Call To Action:

Review the BAA via the link above and respond to us with which specific areas align with your product. Please paste the areas of interest to you in responding to us. 

As well, ARPA-H is establishing an Accelerator program, call PATIO. The Project Accelerator Transition Innovation Office (PATIO) provides a wide variety of transition and commercialization services to Program Managers (PMs) and ARPA-H performers, who are ARPA-H’s contract awardees. These services increase the probability that ARPA-H-funded solutions “survive in the wild.” PATIO will first identify and second de-risk barriers to commercial (or other) success.

As always, if this topic or others are of interest to you, we can help. Please call (650) 937-9164, or contact us here.