Laza Medical collects $36M to build robot-guided ultrasound for heart procedures

Laza Medical has made its debut with a plan to combine artificial intelligence-powered imaging tech with robotic assistance to provide clear pictures of the heart during interventional procedures.

The California startup, launched as a portfolio company from the medtech incubator Shifamed, is starting off with a $36 million series A round led by The Capital Partnership, with additional investments from GE HealthCare, PA MedTech VC Fund, Unorthodox Ventures and Dara Holdings.

The outfit also announced that it has signed on a general manager in Pablo Garcia, the former technical co-founder of Verb Surgical, the robotics joint venture between Verily and Johnson & Johnson that was later fully absorbed by J&J in 2020 for its upcoming Ottava platform.

“I am excited to join the Laza team and look forward to advancing this comprehensive imaging solution so that interventional operators can safely and efficiently tackle complex cases,” said Garcia, who also previously served as J&J’s VP of digital solutions.

Laza aims to deliver advanced navigation tools to the cath lab for both structural heart and electrophysiology procedures, using a robotically controlled ultrasound system—one that would help forgo the X-rays necessary for real-time fluoroscopy.

Earlier this year, the FDA marked a shift away from exposing patients and clinicians to extra radiation, by issuing a broad approval to J&J’s catheter-based treatments for atrial fibrillation that enabled them to be used with ultrasound guidance.

The green light, which granted a “zero fluoroscopy” workflow to radiofrequency ablation hardware, guiding sheaths and heart mapping systems, was based on real-world evidence from an observational registry study.

Not only can fluoroscopy imaging result in increased lifetime cancer risks for interventional cardiologists, but it can also bring long-term muscle and skeletal pain from wearing heavy lead aprons and radiation shields. 

“Obtaining high-quality images of the heart is critical to improving diagnostic confidence and guiding cardiac interventions,” said Dagfinn Saetre, GE HealthCare’s general manager of cardiovascular ultrasound. “We appreciate the opportunity to participate in this funding round for Laza Medical, who is working to pioneer innovative AI, robotics and ultrasound technology to help overcome some of the most pressing cardiac imaging challenges facing clinicians today.”