Neuromodulation Entrepreneurs Join Strategics at 23rd Annual NANS Meeting

January 2020 issue

by Jennifer French, senior editor

The 23rd Annual meeting of the North American Neuromodulation Society took place in Las Vegas, NV, earlier this month—the last meeting at this venue before it moves to Orlando, FL next year. As one of the largest conferences on the topic of neuromodulation, this event brings together discoveries in basic and clinical neuroscience with innovations in neural engineering.

This year the program featured a half-day session called Emerging Technology Forum. Chaired by past-president, Jason Pope, along with a committee of Ali Rezai, Peter Konrad, and NBR editor James Cavuoto, the session was designed to highlight the latest advances in applied technology. Rezai kicked off the session with a general overview of the existing neurotechnologies and applications. He also provided some trends such as the emergence of closed-loop systems, extended battery life and growth of non-invasive devices. “We are also moving toward more personalized stimulation.”

Cavuoto followed with the recent market trends in neurotechnology including projections over the next five years with an average growth of about 12 percent. He also highlighted significant events in the industry such as the announcement of the NIH HEAL program, a new FDA device pathway and the entrance of Neuralink, a new brain interface company headed by Elon Musk. There has also been significant venture capital funding activity as well as industry acquisitions and partnerships.

Incoming NANS president Peter Konrad delivered an overview of the regulatory environment in the U.S. from the perspective of “a physician and advocate.” He highlighted that the FDA has added security to their original mission of focusing on safety and efficacy. “Clinical, technical and business expertise are all essential elements of successful neural device development,” said Konrad, stressing that those skill sets are needed to navigate the translational process.

The highlight of the session was a competition among 12 new and emerging firms in the neuromodulation industry. Each entrepreneur was give 10 minutes to present and then field questions from the judges and the audience in an effort to win cash prizes and “Best in Show.”

IntraVu presented their FDA-approved percutaneous, sterile, single use imaging, and diagnostic tool. Described as “a needle with an eye,” the device allows clinicians to insert a camera for quick, in-office imaging.

Nia Therapeutics CEO Dan Rizzuto presented their novel device for the treatment of memory loss due to traumatic brain injury. The Nia Advanced Neurostim system is an implanted cortical platform that also uses AI to personalize the treatment. Staying with the theme of brain interfaces, Paradromics CEO Matt Angle presented their high-bandwidth brain computer interface technology. Still in pre-clinical stage, the company has been able to achieve 9,401 channel recordings from the brain of a sheep.

Spark Biomedical CEO Dan Powell demonstrated the company’s device to tackle withdrawal symptoms of drug abuse. Using their proprietary non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation system, they have demonstrated a 90-percent reduction of withdrawal symptoms following a 60-minute treatment.

MicroLeads CEO Bryan McLaughlin highlighted the company’s HD64 high resolution electrode. It is designed with closed-loop capabilities but also provides a “foolproof” means of targeting the spinal cord for stimulation. Sur-Set Connect CEO Terry Daglow presented their solution for a common engineering problem of miniaturized connections for neurmodulation systems. Their 16-channel RF-powered connector is a fraction of the size of existing connectors, allowing for a larger space in the IPG can.

Evolutis Health is a digital health company seeking to solve a common problem among practicing pain management clinicians: the psychological evaluation. Their home-use, telemedicine platform has been able to increase patient compliance while reducing the time to diagnosis.

Synergia Medical CEO Attila Borbath described his firm’s innovative optoelectronic neural stimulation device, which opens the door for new optogenetic applications. Their flagship device, the NAO-VNS, allows for optimization programming under standard MRI.

Luca Ravagnan, CEO of the Italian firm WISE, srl, showcased their latest technology in the form of stretchable, thin-film implantable leads. He also highlighted the firm’s injectable paddle lead designed to change SCS surgeries in the near future.

As a potential solution for practicing clinicians, Curogram presented their texting platform. Fully HIPAA compliant, the technology builds physician office efficiency with automated patient messaging. Douleur Therapeutics is developing a drug therapy for blocking the TLR4 receptor in order to reduce chronic pain. Their initial clinical indication is chronic post-operative pain.

Finally, Jon Snyder from NeuronOff presented the company’s innovative injectable electrode. The liquid format of an injectrode allows for placement into hard to reach areas of the body.

Spark Biomedical was selected by the judges as the Best in Show, while Douleur Therapeutics took second place and WISE, srl was the third-place finisher.

Apart from the startup activity, established neuromodulation vendors used the show to showcase their products. Abbott announced positive results from two prospective, multicenter studies of the company’s Proclaim XR primary cell SCS system. The company also announced FDA approval of an expanded indication for the company’s Infinity DBS system to include targeting of GPi.

Medtronic showed its differential target multiplexed therapy using the company’s Intellis platform. Boston Scientific presented results from the COMBO trial demonstrating the value of multiple modalities and combining mechanisms using the company’s Spectra WaveWriter system. Nevro presented results from the SENZA-PDN study, of HF10 therapy for treating painful diabetic neuropathy. A total of 216 patients at 18 centers in the U.S. were enrolled in the study.


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