Despite a promising outlook in terms of development, Noah Medical and its Ceo Jian Zhang, face troubles including litigation from Jian’s former employer, Johnson and Johnson’s Auris, which allege trade thefts.
Noah Medical is based in San Carlos, California, and is credited with creating the Galaxy Robotic surgery system. Its innovative approach to bronchoscopy, coupled with other helpful features such as ease of use and higher reliability, distinguishes it from prior methods used in lung cancer treatment.
Bronchoscopies, in recent times, have taken a turn towards machine-augmented surgeries. This involves sending a catheter equipped with a camera to the lungs, down a patient’s throat, moved around remotely with a controller. Samples of lung nodules are then collected with the help of tools connected to the catheter.
According to the company CEO, where Galaxy Robot fares better is in diagnostic yield and clinical outcomes. He says that “ While various technologies to diagnose lung cancer have been utilized over time, the diagnostic yield has remained relatively low,” hoping to elevate this with the company’s latest advances.
The system utilizes imaging tools for tomosynthesis and augmented fluoroscopy. Tomosynthesis is also used commonly in breast cancer mammography to produce a 3D image. Augmented Fluoroscopy, on the other hand, is used to generate X-rays of the body. The images produced from both are visible on a monitor which offers a side-by-side view of the inside of the patient’s body and the catheter’s movement.
TiLT+ or Tool-in Lesion Tomo+ is also used in the process. It assists doctors by providing them with information as the catheter reaches a nodule in live time. It does so by measuring the distance between the biopsy equipment and the lesion’s center. This is to ensure that the sample has been gathered, and can now be tested.
The system also allows travel to the catheter till the furthest of lesions. Moreover, the system is the only one available at the time to allow single-use bronchoscopy. Prior studies by the FDA like the ones done in 2015 and 2021, recommended healthcare providers to shift to single-use bronchoscopy, at the risk of cross-contamination.
Other studies have also been conducted involving the system. They showed that TiLT+ technology guided operators to simulated nodules with a success rate of 100%. In further good news for the company, the biopsies conducted on pigs over the course of the study showed that operators hit the center in 60% of cases.
Despite these successes, the company faces a lawsuit by Johnson and Johnson which Noah has filed to have dismissed. The complaint lodged by Auris in 2022 in the US District Court in North Carolina claimed wrongful expropriation by Zhang’s company. Thus far, 26,000 documents are alleged by Auris, totaling 81 GB’s of data, to be used without authorization, taken by three of Noah’s employees.
Noah’s lawyers claim that these allegations are either outright false or have no grounds. They state that no files had been claimed by Johnson and Johnson to be missing and that the plaintiff does not bring any evidence that such sensitive information had been shared with Noah Medical. Lastly, the motion by Noah also asserts that Auris’ attacks on their patent filing make claims of flexible catheters and others to be a trade secret which they are not.