Nation of precision Neuroscience
Source: Precision Neuroscience
The cerebral cortex has six cellular regions, but at Precision Neuroscience, a team of scientists and engineers is working to build something that remembers seven.
The device is called the Layer 7 Cortical Interface, and it’s a brain implant that aims to help patients with cerebral palsy use computer programs with only neural signals. This means that patients with serious degenerative diseases like ALS can regain their ability to communicate with loved ones by moving cursors, typing and even accessing media. media with their imaginations.
Layer 7 is an electrode layer that looks like a piece of scotch tape and is thinner than a human hair, which helps it conform to the surface of the brain without damaging any tissue.
Precision, founded in 2021, is one of many companies in the new brain-computer, or BCI, industry. BCI is a system that interprets brain signals and translates them into commands for external technologies, and some companies have done well with this capability.
Precision was co-founded by Benjamin Rapoport, who founded Elon Musk’s BCI group, Neuralink, and Michael Mager. But while Neuralink’s BCI is designed to be implanted directly into brain tissue, Precision relies on a surgical technique designed to be minimally invasive.
Stephanie Rider of Precision Neuroscience examines the company’s microelectrode array
Source: Precision Neuroscience
In order to insert the Layer 7 array, the surgeon makes a thin incision in the skull and taps into the device like a letter in a mailbox. Mager, who is also Precision’s CEO, said the thickness is less than a millimeter — so small that patients don’t have to shave their hair for the procedure.
“I think it is very good in comparison to techniques that require, for example, a craniotomy, which removes a large part of the skull, which takes a long time and has a lot of risk of sick,” he told CNBC. “I’ve never met anyone who wanted a hole drilled into their head.”
The way the process works allows Precision to easily increase the number of electrodes in the system, Mager said, allowing the device to be used for neurological applications before brain disease.
The procedure can be repeated if patients decide they no longer need the implant or need additional options in the future.
“When you start thinking about rolling this out to the general population of patients, the cost of the procedures is an important factor for people thinking about health technology,” Mager said. “If your system can’t be changed, or it’s going to be dangerous to explain, that’s the kind of commitment you’re making to getting a bigger implant.”
Jacob Robinson, professor of electrical engineering at Rice University and co-founder of BCI company Motif Neurotech, said Precision is doing some interesting work in the minimally invasive BCI space. He said patients should not only weigh the risks and benefits of a procedure, but so should doctors and insurance companies.
Robinson said that doctors weigh the procedures and based on existing documents, while insurance companies weigh the costs for their patients, so it is easier to be less invasive. to third parties.
“It’s low, but it’s also an opportunity to save more people, more investment,” he said.
But because the device isn’t implanted directly into the brain tissue, Robinson said the resolution of brain signals won’t be as strong as some other BCI devices.
“You get a better resolution than you get from outside the head, which is not as high-resolution as when you go into the muscle,” he said. “But there’s a lot you can do with this kind of medium scale.”
Precision has successfully used its Layer 7 device to isolate neural signals in animals, and Mager said he expects to receive FDA approval to test the technology in humans in the coming months. from
The company announced a $41 million Series B financing on Wednesday, bringing its total to $53 million in less than two years. The money will allow Precision to hone its product, hire more employees and speed up FDA regulatory review, a goal Mager said Precision is working toward quickly.
“We don’t want the next 15 years to be like the last 15 years, where this will help a few dozen people. So I think we’re in a hurry,” he said. “That’s what we keep hearing [from patients] it’s, ‘We want this, and we want it before the last.'”
Mager said he believes this year is proving to be a “watershed year” in neurotechnology, and that there is a lot of opportunity in the BCI space in terms of funding.
While he said he understands the skepticism surrounding BCI and the technology as a whole, Mager said he believes it has the potential to make a difference for millions of people suffering from neurological conditions. .
“I think the brain is, in many ways, the next frontier for new medicine,” he said. “The fact that so many people have neurological disorders of one kind or another, and we have the tools to offer them, that’s going to change.