Graphene Probes Move Toward Commercialization

by James Cavuoto, editor

June 2020 issue

In recent years, one of the most significant areas of research in biomaterials for new neural implants has been graphene. Researchers in Europe and North America have made steady progress developing devices with higher spatial resolution using the material. There is now at least one commercial startup in this space.

INBRAIN Neuroelectronics, a spin-off of the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) at the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, recently announced a funding round from private and institutional investors, which will allow the company to speed up the development of novel graphene-based implants.

INBRAIN was established in 2019 with the mission of developing brain-implants based on graphene technology for applications in epilepsy, Parkinson’s, and other neurological diseases. The graphene devices will decode neural signals from the brain and produce a therapeutic response adapted to the clinical condition of the specific patient.

The company received funding from Alta Life Sciences, through Sabadell-Asabys funds, along with the Institut Català de Finances and Finaves, a fund promoted and managed by IESE Business School. INBRAIN’s neural interface will rely on artificial intelligence and big data in order to read and modulate brain activity, detect specific biomarkers, and trigger adaptive responses to deliver optimal results in personalized neuromodulation therapies. So far, the technology has been validated in-vitro and in-vivo biocompatibility and toxicity tests and has been successfully used to complete studies on small animals. Recently, INBRAIN began tests on large animals with the aim of ensuring that their graphene devices are safe as well as superior to current solutions based on metals such as platinum and iridium. The company also plans to start human studies soon.

INBRAIN was founded, among others, by ICREA professor Jose Garrido, who leads the ICN2 advanced electronic materials and devices group, and Kostas Kostarelos, who leads the nanomedicine group, along with Anton Guimerà, a researcher at the Spanish National Centre of Microelectronics.

“Within the framework of the Graphene Flagship, which is a European macroproject, we were able to develop this novel graphene-based technology that will allow measuring and stimulating neuronal activity in the brain with a resolution much higher than that of current commercial technologies, said Garrido.”

The ICN2 business and innovation department coordinated the tech transfer and licensing process for INBRAIN last year. “Minimally invasive electronic therapies represent a revolutionary alternative with less potential cost for health systems,” said Carolina Aguilar, CEO of INBRAIN and a former neuromodulation executive at Medtronic. “In our case, the application of new 2D materials such as graphene represents a real opportunity to understand the brain workings in order to optimize and personalize the treatment.”


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