Another innovation may soon arrive in the arsenal against chronic residual-limb pain. An implantable, high-frequency neurostimulator that may completely block pain signals from the site of an amputation is being developed by a three-person startup in Cleveland, Ohio.
Neuros Medical, which incorporated in October to commercialize the device it calls “Nerve Block,” gained its technology through the commercialization of findings by two of its three members, Kevin Kilgore, PhD, and Niloy Bhadra, PhD, both of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, and MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland, in partnership with the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Center.
The system consists of an electrode placed around a peripheral nerve and powered by a pacemaker-sized generator that is implanted into the chest cavity, abdomen, or lower leg. Because the generator operates in a much higher frequency range than conventional neurostimulation devices, Neuros’ technology may be able to completely block a nerve’s capacity to transmit pain signals, as opposed to simply masking the pain signal. The company’s third member is CEO Jon Snyder, CEO-in-residence at BioEnterprise in Cleveland and a venture partner at Michigan’s Arboretum Ventures. Snyder told MedCity News that he’s interested in further developing the device so that it affects only sensory nerves, leaving motor functions intact. This could make the device suitable for millions of people without amputations who have chronic pain or spasticity. Snyder contends that replacing drugs with a device could spare patients the hazards of addiction and adverse drug interactions.
On March 16, the company received a capital infusion from JumpStart, Cleveland, and Case Technology Ventures, Cleveland. The $375,000 investment will be used to complete animal testing on the device and to move it through pre-clinical testing, Snyder said. Snyder told MedCity News that the company plans to launch human trials in early 2010, at about the same time it plans to add a chief science officer and chief technology officer. Commercial launch, Snyder said, could begin 2011 or 2012.