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EDEN2020 - Research into advanced needles for robotic brain surgery

Prof. Sarthak Misra of the University Medical Centre Groningen (UMCG) and the University of Twente has been awarded a European grant of €713,000. He will use the funds on a four-year research project into the development of flexible needles fitted with sensors for use in robotic neurosurgery. Misra’s research is part of the European EDEN2020 project in which he and researchers from seven other European universities have joined forces. 

A minimally invasive surgical procedure, such as the introduction of a needle into a brain for a tumour biopsy, must be conducted with the utmost accuracy. An MRI can be used to precisely pinpoint the location of a tumour or other injury, but even the slightest movement of the head can make the needle miss its target. Further it is possible to determine precisely where the needle is in the brain during such a neurosurgical procedure. 

Flexible robotic needle

Prof. Misra intends to use the grant to develop a robotic needle that is fitted with sensors. This will make it possible to detect with micrometre (1/1000th of a millimetre) precision where the needle is during the procedure (along using ultrasound imaging) and the surgeon will be able to control the needle’s path in 3D. The thin needle is flexible and so, in contrast to existing needles, it can be manoeuvred through the body tissue more precisely, enabling the surgeon to avoid sensitive tissues. The needle that will developed as part of EDEN2020 can navigate deep within the human body.  

Prof. Misra has been studying flexible robotic needles and their applications for some years now. For example, at the MIRA institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine of the University of Twente he is developing a robotic system that can inject magnetic particles into the human body using flexible needles, which will make it possible to administer drugs much more accurately. As of 2014, Misra is also affiliated with the UMCG, where he is cooperating with, among others, the departments of neurosurgery and radiology in order to translate the knowledge and experience to clinically-relevant applications.  


Horizon2020

Prof. Misra’s research is a part of the European EDEN2020 project, a collaboration between eight European research institutes led by Imperial College London. The project was awarded a grant of €8.4 million through the European Horizon2020 programme, a highly competitive platform that encourages innovation and research in the European Union. The other research partners are Università degli Studi di Milano, Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Technische Universität München, Politecnico di Milano, Renishaw Plc. and Xograph Healthcare Ltd. 


About the researcher

Sarthak Misra studied mechanical engineering at McGill University in Montreal (Canada) and worked on the International Space Station for three years as an employee of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates. In 2009 he was awarded his PhD from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore (USA). . Since 2009 he has been a faculty member of the Department of Biomechanical Engineering at the University of Twente. He directs the Surgical Robotics Laboratory, which is affiliated with the MIRA institute. Prof. Misra has been affiliated with UMCG (Department of Biomedical Engineering) since 2014. In 2015 he was awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant and in 2010 he received a VENI grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Prof. Misra is particularly interested in modelling and controlling electro-mechanical systems for medical applications. For more information, please visit the website of the Surgical Robotics Lab: www.surgicalroboticslab.nl.