For the past eight years, NIH has funded researchers at Case Western Reserve University’s Functional Electrical Simulation Center (FSC) to help researchers test and commercialize a fully implantable computer network. The system will make it possible for a quadriplegic to move arms and legs, control breathing and bladder, coughs and much more.
In June, the Ohio Third Frontier Innovation Platform Program awarded $3 million to the university and three Cleveland-based industrial partners to use the funding for further research. The Ohio Third Frontier awardees for 2013 will work to commercialize a revolutionary modular neurostimulation system.
Researchers at Case Western will work on the project with NDI Medical LLC a venture and commercialization firm funding innovative neurodevice technologies, SPR™ Therapeutics a commercialization firm focusing on neurodevice technologies, and Valtronic a niche manufacturing company.
The development of the computer network is aimed at those individuals that suffer spinal cord injuries, strokes or multiple sclerosis, but will also be able to ease chronic pain or help individuals regain control that is sapped by Parkinson’s diseases or other maladies.
According to Hunter Peckham, a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western, the system uses what is called “one pilot” referring to the power module containing the computer processing unit, network connections, and batteries. The only hardware that will be outside the body are wireless rechargers that patients will use to charge the batteries once or twice a year while they sleep. The platform is modular and scalable and can be tailored to each patient’s needs.
The new funding will enable NDI Medical LLC to take the technology through a host of validation and verification testing that is required in order to manufacture the medical device on a commercial scale. SPR Therapeutics will work to commercialize the network for chronic joint and limb pain, and Valtronic with their experience in combining mechanical electrical, and computer engineering in design work will assist in the final product.
The researchers are seeking FDA approval so they can begin their first human study with ten individuals using the system by next spring.