Johnson & Johnson
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Ethicon has entered into an agreement to purchase medical technology company Auris Health Inc. for approximately $ 3.4 billion, reinforcing J & J's influence on the use of robotic technology for medical procedures and surgeries.

J & J announced on Wednesday that Auris technology would help it develop a digital solution addressing different aspects of lung cancer treatment by patients. If certain milestones are reached, Auris could also receive up to $ 2.35 billion additional.

Auris has developed the Monarch platform, a medical device that can help doctors access nodules in patients' lungs to diagnose and target treatments, according to the company's website.

Auris has raised $ 220 million to further commercialize this technology, the company announced in November. The California company had over $ 700 million in funding at the time, including this investment.

Auris founder and director Frederic Moll will join J & J at the end of the deal. Dr. Moll is also co-founder of

Intuitive surgery

Inc., the medical technology company that manufactures the da Vinci robot assisted surgery system and the endoluminal Ion system, designed for lung biopsies.

Major medical equipment manufacturers have entered the robotics market, in part because equipment can be expensive. Last year,

Medtronic

PLC has agreed to acquire Mazor Robotics, a manufacturer of machines used in spine surgery, for $ 1.6 billion.

Robotic assistance in surgery has also grown considerably over the past two decades as surgeons have fully understood the systems' ability to mitigate human errors and improve techniques and outcomes for patients.

Now, robots are often used in surgeries to remove gallbladders and in hysterectomies. But the surgical use of robots has also raised concerns about overuse, safety and costs.

J & J has already made a foray into surgical robotics by forming Verb Surgical, a joint venture with the Alphabet unit, Verily, in 2015. Last year, J & J acquired Orthotaxy, a private developer of computer software. robot assisted surgery.

The Auris agreement is the latest investment by J & J, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, in the medical technology sector.

The medical technology division of J & J recently invested in the incubator of NXT biomedical therapeutic devices. The company will have the opportunity to move projects that interest the incubator to its own medical device units for further development.

In the third quarter of last year, J & J bought the health care technology company focused on Surgical Medical Enterprises Distribution.

J & J shares have changed little to $ 134.07 in early afternoon Wednesday.

Write to Allison Prang at allison.prang@wsj.com and Peter Loftus at peter.loftus@wsj.com