Knee replacement robot does custom implants

A personalized approach to a painful procedure could upend the joint replacement market.

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Personalized medicine is transforming treatment, but joint replacement is still a largely off-the-shelf affair. A startup combining artificial intelligence, roboticsand 3D printing want to change that, and it's targeting a big crowdsourced Series B to make it happen. 

Monogram Orthopedics is targeting a $34M raise to scale and bring their technology to the $19.6B joint replacement market. The company has raised over $20M and is currently in the middle of an active series-B round, which is being crowdfunded via StartEngine.

"We are poised to do what no other company has done in the total joint arthroplasty market before," says Dr. Doug Unis, a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon co-founder and chief medical officer, Monogram Orthopedics and Chief of Quality Improvement at Mount Sinai West, "harness technology to build truly personalized implants that fully tap into the power of intelligent robotics."

The quest to personalize the joint replacement market could have a huge payoff if a company can grab market share. More than 1 million knee replacement surgeries are done a year in the United States alone, a figure that is expected to grow to 3.5 million by 2030. But the experience of having a joint replaced, as anyone who has undergone surgery is aware, is difficult and often excruciating, and results are by no means guaranteed. There are around 100 000 hip and knee replacement failures every year, and 36% of patients regretting their procedure altogether.

Monogram is betting a personalized approach could help. 

"Thanks to significant improvements in robotics, innovative new manufacturing techniques like 3D printing of medical-grade titanium alloys and new machine learning (AI) image processing techniques, opportunities to exploit technology and significantly improve patient quality of life are emerging," according to a press statement. "Monogram aims to disrupt the 'one-size fits none' model by offering patients an enhanced individualized fit, well suited for each patient's individual needs."

Monogram is developing a robotic platform paired with personalized implants. Its active milling navigated robot arm paired with 3D-printed, patient-optimized implants could improve joint replacement patients' surgical care. Early research seems to back the claim. The company says a procedure performed benchmarking against a competitor's technology, which is one of the most clinically and commercially successful knees on the market, showed the competitive product had up to 630% more micromotion than the Monogram implant placed with their surgical robot. That research was performed at a laboratory at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Investors seem to be backing the concept. Riding the growing crowdfunding wave, Monogram is targeting $34 million in funding in its current Series B.

The company is headquartered in Austin, Texas.