Health and Commerce

Since its debut six years ago, Redwood City-based startup Auris Health has quietly raised $500 million to develop a series of tools designed to innovate surgical robotics technology.

The company’s latest product, Monarch, is a controller-operated robotic camera that allows physicians to visualize the inside of the human body.

The technology, which was approved by the FDA earlier this month, could become a key tool in helping physicians diagnose lung cancer early on.

If you’ve never heard of Auris Health, it’s for good reason: Despite the vast amount of capital the company has accumulated over the past six years, Auris has deliberately operated in stealth mode, quietly developing a series of tools designed to innovate surgical robotics technology and raising $500 million from investors including Lux Capital, Mithril Capital Management, Highland Capital, and Coatue Management.

Earlier this month, the company received FDA approval for its latest product: a controller-operated robotic camera that has the potential to transform the way physicians diagnose lung cancer.

Endoscopy, the medical imaging procedure that allows physicians to look inside the body, has experienced few major advancements since it was developed in the 1960s, Auris’s CSO Josh DeFonzo told Business Insider. Auris’s newest platform, called Monarch, is designed with the intent of transforming endoscopy, particularly in the field of lung cancer diagnosis.

“We believe that Monarch will become the go-to approach for diagnosing lung cancer in the future,” DeFonzo said.

Monarch’s advantage lies in the platform’s technology, which is built on what DeFonzo describes as four key technological pillars. Through its software, data analytics, robotics, and visual imaging, Monarch allows physicians to delicately maneuver cameras within a patient’s body, nimbly accessing areas within the lungs that are typically only reachable through more invasive procedures.

Monarch’s goal is to diagnose lung cancer in its early stages, which the company describes as a crucial component in battling lung cancer. In a press release, Auris said that more than 90 percent of people diagnosed with lung cancer do not survive because physicians are made aware of the disease only within its latter, inoperable stages.

Peter Hébert, co-founder at Lux Capital and a member of Auris Health’s board, said that keeping the company’s innovative technology under wraps for the past six years was an intentional measure.

“We didn’t want to make a big stink until we had a produced a technology that actually solved a problem,” Hébert told Business Insider.

Hébert says he believes that Auris Health will set the precedent for surgical robotics technology in the upcoming years. “It’s a big sum of capital that’s been raised, but ultimately we want this company to be worth tens of billions of dollars,” said Hébert. “Not only does Auris have the potential to transform the lives of millions of people, but from an investor’s perspective, this is an iconic company that will represent the next phase of surgical robotics intervention.”

Via Business Insider