Motif Neurotech implants tiny device to stimulate brain and treat depression

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Neurostimulation has emerged as a promising therapy for alleviating the symptoms of major depressive disorder, even in cases where traditional treatments have failed. However, current neurostimulation technologies often require patients to make regular clinic visits or undergo invasive open-brain surgery to implant devices.

Motif Neurotech aims to revolutionise this landscape by developing its own neuromodulation implant that can deliver therapy from the comfort of a patient’s home, without the need for highly invasive procedures. While the device is still awaiting regulatory clearance and comprehensive clinical trials, preliminary results from a first-in-human study, published on the medRxiv preprint server, indicate its potential as a safe and minimally invasive approach to treating severe depression using neurostimulation.

The device, known as DOT (Digitally Programmable Over-Brain Therapeutic), is remarkably compact, measuring only about one centimeter in diameter. Unlike conventional neurostimulation devices, it doesn’t require direct connections or contain a battery. Instead, a separate magnetic coil and driver system wirelessly transmit both power and data to the implant, which is encased in a glass housing and equipped with an electrode for delivering stimulation.

Motif Neurotech takes pride in the fact that their wireless device does not need to make physical contact with the brain or its protective dura mater. Instead, it is inserted through a minimally invasive outpatient procedure involving a small burr hole (14mm in diameter) in the skull. From this position, it can precisely target specific brain regions.

The company envisions expanding its neuromodulation technology into a comprehensive at-home treatment system that connects a wearable headset to the DOT implant for regular sessions, often referred to as a “brain pacemaker.”

“We’ve developed what we believe is the smallest implantable brain stimulator demonstrated in a human subject. Our wireless, battery-free device will enable a minimally-invasive neurostimulation solution to treat neuropsychiatric diseases such as TRD. With our technology, a short outpatient procedure will enable long-lasting therapy with very few side effects compared to drugs. The growing trend of increasing efficacy and reduced invasiveness may soon make neuromodulation to treat mental health as common as pacemakers in cardiology.”

– Jacob Robinson, Ph.D., CEO & Founder, Motif Neurotech

The study, conducted at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston and led by researchers from Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, and UTHealth Houston, demonstrated the safe implantation of the DOT device in patients’ skulls. Importantly, it successfully reached the designated brain areas to deliver neurostimulation therapy.

In addition to this initial study, researchers conducted a longer-term evaluation of the implant in large animals, providing further evidence of its consistent ability to deliver safe and effective brain stimulation.

Motif Neurotech’s innovative approach holds promise for revolutionizing depression treatment by making neurostimulation more accessible, less invasive, and potentially more effective for those who need it most. While more research and regulatory approvals lie ahead, these early results offer hope for a groundbreaking advancement in mental health care.

“Motif’s minimally-invasive neuromodulation device is designed to be implanted in a simple outpatient procedure. This tiny device, which cannot be seen once implanted, provides at-home stimulation that engages brain networks known to treat depression. This is the same brain area activated by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which is proven to treat TRD but requires frequent clinic visits and usually only provides temporary relief. This new at-home based therapy has the potential to revolutionize the treatment options for patients with depression.”

– Motif Neurotech Co-Founder and neurosurgeon Sameer Sheth, M.D., Ph.D, Professor of Neurosurgery, Baylor College of Medicine

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