Spinal robotics company forging new path after spiking $482M plan to go public

Alan Condon -  

Minimally invasive spine device company Accelus is making a "strategic pivot" after it scrapped a previous deal to go public by merging with a special purpose acquisition company.

The $482 million combination with CHP Merger Corp. was agreed upon in November, but Accelus decided to scrap the transaction because of market conditions, according to CEO and co-founder Chris Walsh, who spent nearly 20 years combined at NuVasive and Stryker.

"We believe that this strategic pivot will best enable our team to execute on our mission to transform the spine surgery space by accelerating the adoption of [minimally invasive surgery] as the standard of care," Mr. Walsh said. "We continue to see accelerating demand for our highly differentiated product portfolio and for robotic-enabled minimally invasive techniques specifically, both in hospitals and ASCs."

Accelus' first move since calling off the deal was to hire neurosurgeon Kevin Foley, MD, as its first chief robotics officer. Dr. Foley is chair of Semmes Murphey Clinic and director of complex spine surgery at Semmes Murphey in Memphis, Tenn.

As chief robotics officer, he will lead the development of Accelus' Remi robotic navigation system, designed to assist spine surgeons with the implantation of pedicle screws and expand beyond the capabilities of current spine robots on the market, according to the company. Dr. Foley was a key contributor in the development of Remi and performed his first surgery with the robot last December.

"I was interested in developing a system that was designed to both exceed the precision of existing legacy spinal robotic systems and address the inherent significant limitations associated with those legacy systems, such as extended setup and teardown time, procedural workflow disruptions, large footprints and high cost," Dr. Foley said in an April 18 news release. "Remi addresses all of these concerns, providing equivalent accuracy with an optimized procedural workflow and duration at a fraction of the cost of previous systems."

Remi comprises an ultra-lightweight nearfield camera to minimize line-of-sight issues and a robotic targeting platform that surgeons can manipulate before locking in for targeting. Both the camera and targeting platform are attached to the operating room table during surgery and stored in the workstation when not operational, which minimizes Remi's footprint and makes it suitable for use in ASCs, according to Accelus.

Accelus was formed last year when Integrity Implants merged with Fusion Robotics.

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