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TransEnterix Opens Training, R&D Center in Italy, Gains Investor

By Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer

TransEnterix President and CEO Todd Pope cuts the ribbon to formally open the company's new Milan, Italy Robotic Surgery Center. -- TransEnterix photos

TransEnterix, a Morrisville-based medical device company that uses robotics to improve minimally invasive surgery, has opened a new European training and research and development center in Milan, Italy.

The TransEnterix Milan Robotic Surgery Center, dedicated Dec. 15, is part of the technology and research village next to the University Milano-Bicocca campus.

The company’s Senhance Surgical Robot “has strong development roots in the innovation corridor found in Lombardy and Italy,” said Todd Pope, president and CEO at TransEnterix. “We are pleased to make this investment to create a world-class center for robotic surgical training and to continue our research and development in Milan, which will bring surgeons and researchers from across the globe together to help create the next wave of robotic surgery.”

The new robotic center includes an integrated demonstration operating theater, robotic training and development systems, and facilities for hosting large groups. It will serve as the company’s European research and development facility and will enable research collaborations with the European Union’s Joint Research Center, academic institutions and industry partners across Europe.

A few days after dedicating the facility, TransEnterix announced it has gained a new institutional investor. Lincoln Park Capital Fund of Chicago has committed to purchasing up to $25 million in shares of TransEnterix stock over the next three years “at a purchase price based on the company’s prevailing market prices at the time of each sale.”

Visitors to the Milan event test the Senhance system.

Pope said TransEnterix would use the proceeds “to provide us with additional balance sheet strength and to help continue funding our Senhance regulatory and commercial efforts.”

Senhance is a multi-port robotic system that allows multiple arms to control instruments and an eye-sensing camera with haptic feedback, or the sense of touch. The system simulates laparoscopic motion familiar to experienced surgeons and features three-dimensional, high-definition vision technology, according to the company’s latest quarterly Form 10-Q filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Senhance has been granted a CE Mark, a regulatory approval allowing its sale in countries within the European Economic Area for laparoscopic abdominal and pelvic surgery, as well as limited thoracic operations excluding cardiac and vascular surgery. The system is not currently available for sale in the United States, but the company is aiming for FDA approval in 2017.

TransEnterix is also developing a SurgiBot System, a single-port robotically enhanced laparoscopic surgical platform. SurgiBot is not approved for sale in any market. The FDA declined to approve it in April, ruling that TransEnterix had not shown it to be substantially equivalent to devices already on the market.

Both robotic systems are intended to give surgeons greater precision when operating with laparascopes, thin instruments with cameras that are inserted into the body through a small surgical incision. Smaller incisions generally result in less post-operative discomfort, quicker recovery times, shorter hospital stays, earlier return to full activities, smaller scars and less internal scarring when compared to standard open surgery.

TransEnterix acquired Senhance, previously called ALF-X, in 2015 by purchasing the surgical robotics division of SOFAR S.p.A., an Italian health care company. The cash and stock deal totaled $99.8 million.

TransEnterix was founded in 2006, and its shares are publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

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