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About this author
Zack Lynch is author of The Neuro Revolution: How Brain Science Is Changing Our World (St. Martin's Press, July 2009).
He is the founder and executive director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization (NIO) and co-founder of NeuroInsights. He serves on the advisory boards of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, Science Progress, and SocialText, a social software company. Please send newsworthy items or feedback - to Zack Lynch.
Follow me on Twitter at @neurorev
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October 31, 2005

Obesity - The Global Race for Treatments

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Posted by Zack Lynch

As children munch away on candy corns, baby ruths and the wide assortment of candy they collected last night, some of them are becoming part of the growing "globesity" (global obesity) epidemic.

Over one billion people worldwide and approximately 130 million Americans are overweight or obese, according to a July 2005 report published by the World Health Organization. If current trends continue, that number will increase to 1.5 billion by 2015. Joining the many neuropharmaceutical companies developing new therapeutics to treat the escalating global epidemic of overweight and obesity – “globesity” – are a small cadre of neurodevice companies offering novel solutions.

cover%20neurotech%20insights%20obesity.jpgThe potential of neurostimulation devices to treat a variety of diseases, such as epilepsy and chronic pain, is becoming widely appreciated. The neurostimulation market generated revenues of over $1 billion in 2004 with 20% growth, making it the fastest growing areas of medical devices. In most applications the technical principle is the same: a pacemaker-type device known as an Implantable Pulse Generator (IPG), delivers a precise pattern of stimulation via the appropriate nerve pathway to achieve the desired effect...

Obesity is very serious and growing (no pun intended), health problem which is why we have chosen to focus on the obesity market in this month's Neurotech Insights. To order the complete report please visit, www.neurotechinsights.com. Also included in this issue:


INSIDE THIS ISSUE: OCTOBER 31, 2005 - Obesity

Markets and Industry Players
Included: Pharmaceutical and Device Clinical Trials
Article: The Search for A Skinny Pill
Top News Alerts: People, Product Updates & Acquisitions
Featured Company: Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA)

Neurotech Insights is now available in Japanese too.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurotech Industry

October 26, 2005

DVD of Theoretical Neuroscience Meeting

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Posted by Zack Lynch

If you are a "neurogeek" like me you'll be happy to hear that all the talk given at the recent inaugural symposium of the Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience Institute, now associated with the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley were videotaped and are available as a DVD.

The talks included:
Horace Barlow, Cambridge University
"The Roles of Theory, Commonsense, and Guesswork in Neuroscience"
Dan Kersten, University of Minnesota
"Human Object Perception: Theory, Psychophysics & Imaging"
Sue Becker, McMaster University
"The role of the hippocampus in memory, contextual gating, stress and depression"
Florentin Worgotter, University of Goettingen
"Learning in Neurons and Robots"
Discussion
The Role and Future Prospects for Math/Computational Theories in Neuroscience
David Heeger, New York University
"What fMRI Can Tell Us about How Visual Cortex Works"
Kevan Martin, ETH/UNI Zurich
"Canonical Circuits for Neocortex"
Terry Sejnowski, Salk Institute
"Dendritic Darwinism"
Jeff Hawkins, Numenta
"Prospects and Problems of Cortical Theory"

To order, please send a $5 check made out to UC Regents and send to:
DVD
c/o Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience
Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute
132 Barker, MC #3190
Berkeley, CA 94720-3190

A roster of upcoming talks at Redwood visit their website here.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurosociety

October 24, 2005

Perspectives on Neurodevices from Wall Street and VC

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Posted by Zack Lynch

In this wrap-up session, representatives from several key venture capital firms in the neurotechnology space will offer their feedback on the status of the industry and their impressions of the issues discussed during the day.

Alex Arrow of Lazard Capital Markets (the only sell side research firm focused on neurodevices) was the only Wall Street analyst on the panel. He suggested that the key distinction between Walls Street and VC is the following: Wall Street predictions need to good for the next year while VC's need to understand the future 3-8 years out. He put the total US available market for neurodevices at $35 Billion with current indications.

Leslie Bottorff from Onset Ventures, Roger Quy from Technology Partners and Daniel O'Connell from NeuroVentures Capital all agreed that 2005 was an exciting year for neurotech. While 2-3 years ago there was a lot of unknowns, there is now increasing commitment of venture community as the technical clinical risks and market adoption risks for neurodevices have decreased with new products receiving FDA approval.

Other comments included: Lot of synergy between drugs and devices but the combo is still a bit scary for investors. People are still trying to figure out winning business models for drug/device companies (i.e. who gets paid). Neurodevices can provide much more localized delivery of drugs. Medical devices are likely to adopt direct to consumer advertising like pharma has.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurodevices

Neurotech Leaders Forum 2005 Conference Review

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Last week I gave an hour long overview of the neurotechnology industry at the Neurotech Leaders Forum, a 2 day conference held annually in San Francisco. The following blogs (found on Brain Waves) cover the highlights of several conference sessions, including:

1) Northstar Neuroscience - Launching a Neurotech Startup
2) Key Events in Neurodevices in the Last Year
3) Getting Government grants in Neurotechnology
4) Five Neurotech Startups Target the Brain
5) Cutting Edge Neurodevice Technologies
6) Perspectives on Neurodevices from Wall Street and VC

These notes took a while to write up so I hope you find them useful and inspiring.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurodevices

October 23, 2005

Cutting Edge Neurodevice Technologies - MCS and TMS

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Warren Grill highlighted two areas:

-Motor Cortex Stimulation (MCS) to treat Parkinson's is showing promise in animal models. MCS normalizes rate and pattern of basal ganglia neurons in primates. This week in Neurosurgery an article showed that stimulation appeared to reduce amount of L-Dopa needed.

-TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) for migraine headache from Neuralieve looks interesting. The concept is that prior to onset of a migraine a lot of people get an aura, so when people get this feeling that stimulate their cortex with 2 pulses, 5 seconds apart. Neuralieve was founded by the same people who founded NeuroPace.

John Mcdonald, Director of the Spinal Cord Injury Institute spoke about Restorative Therapies' Activity Based Restoration program.

MindCare Centres opended first rTMS clinics for depression. What is rTMS? Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a computer controlled magnetic beam applied 20 minutes a day that is non-invasive with minimal/or no side effects. No accidental seizures since 1996. rTMS may apply to many treatment resistant patients in the following markets: depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, tinnitus, pain, Parkinson's, migraines, aphasia, stroke (right after event), eating disorders, addiction.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurodevices

Five Neurodevice Startups Target the Brain

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Notes from Startups:

Medtrode, Souhile Assaf, CEO: Patented multi-function Deep Brain Stimulation electrode, 75% smaller than what is on the market enabling new treatment paradigms. Electrodes stimulate and record simultaneously. US Patent issued 10 days ago.

Andara Life Science Inc. Mark Carney, CEO: Bioengineering platform; an oscillating field stimulator, implanted in muscle of acute and sub acute injury.

GentCorp, Elisabeth Hager, CEO: Newest venture of Mr. Wilson Greatbatch (inventor of pacemaker). Inventing power source solutions for the neurostimulation market because neurodevices are limited by power. Developed a rechargeable battery for neurostimulation which allows for higher charge and greater longevity than cardiodevices. Battery can last between 10-40 years.

Neuronetrix K.C. Fadem, COO: Neuronetrix has developed an easy-to-use ERP-based system for widespread, high-throughput screening of a variety of neurological disorders. The company’s, patent pending COGNISION™ System uses advanced micro-electronics integrated into a patient-friendly headset to automatically perform a variety of ERP tests. This is the only company I've seen in person who is targeting EEG neuroinformatics market.

NeuroNexus Technologies Daryl Kipke, CEO: The company is focused on becoming the leading supplier of implantable microscale probe systems for establishing chemical and electrical interfaces to the nervous system. Currently a boot strapped startup looking for investment.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurodevices

Getting Government Grants in Neurotechnology

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Posted by Zack Lynch

This session examined the role that various government agencies can play in stimulating or inhibiting the growth of the neurotechnology industry. Topics covered include the approval process, reimbursement, oversight, legal issues, and funding opportunities.

Joe Pancrazio from the National Institutes of Health told entrepreneurs to focus on a specific indication and depending on the indication choose one of the 27 NIH institutes, rather than looking for multiple applications of a technology. He also gave an overview of the NIH neuroprosthetics program whose goal is to make it possible for paralyzed individuals to stand and feel balance. He suggested that bladder and bowl control are also important areas of funding.

Gail Schechter of BioIntelligence gave an excellent presentation on best practices in grant writing. She works with companies to ensure that the company staff and scientific advisors work together to prepare documents. Key points: make a case for salaries, equipment, scientific validation of proposed technology, expert feedback to point out both strengths and weakness, and unmet market opportunity are key areas to focus on. Gail's great poem on how grants can make you soar got a well deserved laugh. For more on strategic grant planning contact Gail at Biointelligence.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurodevices

Northstar Neuroscience - Launching a Neurotech Start up

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Northstar Neuroscience CEO Alan Levy began the conference with a talk on how to launch a neurotech start-up. Key points:

1) Neurotech investors are looking for a large unmet need, strong IP portfolio, good science, experienced management team and attractive margins.

2) Northstar has developed a platform technology based on stimulation of cortex initially focused on stroke but in clinical trials for other indications. Why cortical stimulation? Unlike Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) which requires extensive brain surgery, cortical stimulation sits on the surface of the brain (the dura) which does not require going deep into the brain, neurosurgeons consider implantation minimally invasive taking less than an hour.

3) Stroke: there are over 1 million a year in the U.S., with over 5 million Americans stroke survivors severely limited in their ability to live normal lives.

4) Cortical stimulation can bring back movement to pre-stroke abilities in rats and monkeys, histological analysis showed that dendrites grow back showing that stimulation accompanies neuroplasticty.

5) Northstar stroke trials: Patients with more than 4 months post stroke. Ranged from 4 months to 8 years. Looking for 10% improvement and what Northstar saw was 20-30% improvement in functions. Improvements are sustained over many months allowing people to go back to work, caring for children etc...Currently in pivotal trial.

6) Second application: Aphasia, 20% of stroke survivors suffer from speech disability. Average Sales Price of 15-20K,

7) IP: More than 40 primary filings in cortical stimulation, generate over 100 patents. Mayfield, Domain, Canaan, Boston Scientific, J&J are investors.

8) We are in healthcare to make a difference. The money will come if you provide real value.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurodevices

October 21, 2005

Key Events in Neurodevices This Year

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Jim Cavuoto, Publisher of Neurotech Reports and conference host, gave an excellent talk that covered some of the major events in the neurodevice sector over the past year. These included:

- St. Jude purchase last week of Advanced Neurostimulation (ANSI)
- Cyberonics' VNS approval for Treatment Resistant Depression (first foray of neurodevices into psychiatric illness)
- Rechargeable SCS Onslaught (SCS = spinal cord stimulation)
- Medtronic buying binge - Transneuronix and IGN
- Boston Scientific - Aspect Medical deal (Aspect has a brain state analyzer to help understand what set of part of the patient population might respond to different types of treatments)
- ANSI DBS Entry
- Otto Bock purchase of NeuroDan
- FDA Approvals (Cyberonics VNS for TRD), Medtronic Activa HUD for OCD, Medtronic ONSTIM IDE for ONS (Occipital Nerve Stimulation for Migraine), BSC/Medtronic/ANSI Rechargeable SCS

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurodevices

October 17, 2005

Advanced Neuromodulation Systems bought by St. Jude - $1.3B

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Posted by Zack Lynch

The hot neurotech M&A market is getting hotter. On Sunday, St. Jude Medical announced that it has struck a deal to buy Texas-based Advanced Neuromodulation Systems Inc. for $1.3 billion.

The acquisition is in an effort capitalize on a new frontier in medical technology which involves using pacemaker technology to stimulate the spinal cord by using small bursts of electricity to treat a potentially vast array of conditions and diseases ranging from Parkinson's disease to obesity.

The neurostimulation market, currently dominated by Medtronic Inc., is estimated at $1 billion now and growing 20 percent annually. With the acquisition, St. Jude gains a solid foothold as No. 2 in the spinal cord stimulation market.

"This is the next hot growth area in medical device technology," Daniel Starks, St. Jude's chairman, president and CEO, said in an interview Sunday. "With this acquisition, we can jump right into it."

Look for more neurotech M&A and IPO activity in the coming months.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurodevices

October 12, 2005

Stimulating Consciousness, Understanding Dreams

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Posted by Zack Lynch

One theory that tries to explain consciousness argues that the essence of consciousness is the integration of information. For example, communication between different areas of the brain (e.g. cortex) might be one sign of this integration and of consciousness. To test this hypothesis researchers at the University of Wisconsin led by Dr. Guilio Tononi recorded electrical activity in the brains of six sleepy volunteers using high density EEG. Before the subjects nodded off, the researchers stimulated a small path of right frontal cortex with transcranial magnetic stimulation, a noninvasive method that uses magnetic pulses to induce electrical activity inside the head. As results were published in this week's Science: (photo of TMS machine working on subject)

tms_am1k.jpg

The EEG recordings revealed how the neural actvity triggered by TMS spread from the site of stimulation to other parts of the brain. The team repeated the experiment once the subjects had entered non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep. Noise canceling earphones ensured that subjects couldn't detect the sound of teh TMS magnet.

When the subjects were awake, TNS elicited waves of neural activity that spread through neighboring area of the right frontal and parietal cortex and to corresponding regions on the left side of the brain. During non-REM sleep, the same TMS stimulus only elicited neural activity at the site of stimulation.

The researchers say that the finding suggest that different areas of the cortex do indeed stop talking to each other during non-REM sleep- a stage of sleep on which people often report little or no conscious experience on waking. A follow up experiment is scheduled that will pulse the brain during late-night REM sleep, a time when researchers expect to see a pattern which is much more similar to wakefulness.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurodiagnostics

October 10, 2005

Apple - Beyond Ipod to Open Source NeuroLens

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Apple is more than Ipods and Macs. Apple is extremely prevalent in the life sciences, and increasing in popularity and in adoptions in neuroimaging labs. Much of the imaging software in common use now was first developed in the mid-1990s, by physicists. The engineering behind that software is now dated, focusing on things like a small memory footprint—performance bottlenecks were completely different than they are with current systems. Most older programs were also written for specific labs that used only a few file formats and so tend to be very restrictive about what formats they will support.

NeuroLens, developed by Rick Hoge at the A. A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. Rick is a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, a faculty member at the Harvard Medical School, Department of Radiology, whose interests focus on cerebrovascular physiology and the physics of how this affects the signal screen seen in MRI scans. The application is targeted specifically at the research community, who works with large data sets—neurologists, biologists, and neuropsychologists, all doing basic research on brain function. The work is funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy as part of a project to understand the genetic bases of addiction and depression.

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Rick designed NeuroLens much like [Adobe] Photoshop—it can read many data storage formats and get it into the program. “We focused on interoperability,” Rick explains. “In some instances, NeuroLens will be used for its front end to read three dimensional surface images of the brain with another program. In this way, it doesn’t replace other tools, but can be used in conjunction with them."

Brain imaging from MRI studies result in a series of three-dimensional images. Image analysis generally consists of image processing steps for data quality improvement, followed by statistical analysis to identify regions of brain activation during a task or stimulus that was applied when the subject was scanned. This multi-step process can be complicated by outdated software systems.

“For example,” Rick says, “a series of 3D images must be aligned to reduce the effect of subject motion and are often spatially smoothed in 3D to improve signal-to-noise ratio. Using the improved data structures, tasks that might have taken half an hour in the past can now be done in seconds. It is a research imaging tool whose performance far surpasses anything in use today, one that is easy to use, intuitive, and has the capabilities to analyze and combine data from many different sources in forms that are extremely useful for researchers. NeuroLens is an integrated visualization and analysis package for quantitative physiological neuroimaging, now in public Beta. Looks like Apple has a good slice of the growing neuroinformatics market.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: Neurodiagnostics

October 7, 2005

How We Are Going to Die

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Posted by Zack Lynch

This past Sunday, David Brooks in the New York Times explains how we are going to die:

"Twenty percent of us, according to a Rand Corporation study, are going to get cancer or another rapidly debilitating condition and we'll be dead within a year of getting the disease. Another 20 percent of us are going to suffer from some cardiac or respiratory failure. We'll suffer years of worsening symptoms, a few
life-threatening episodes, and then eventually die.

But 40 percent of us will suffer from some form of dementia (most frequently Alzheimer's disease or a disabling stroke). Our gradual, unrelenting path toward death will take 8 or 10 or even 20 years, during which we will cease to become the person we were. We will linger on, in some new state, depending on the care of others.

As the population ages, more people will live in this final category. Between now and 2050, the percentage of the population above age 85 is expected to quadruple, and the number of people with Alzheimer's
disease is expected to quadruple, too."

Bottom line: Neurological diseases and psychiatric illnesses represent the greatest threat to our lifestyles and economy. Beyond the untold human suffering, the economic burden of brain-related illness is already greater than $1 Trllion. What will it be in 2050?

Comments (10) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Mental Health Issues

October 5, 2005

Neurotech in Japan and Emerging Schizophrenia Treatments

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Due to increasing interest in the neurotechnology industry from the Japanese market, NeuroInsights has entered an agreement with Japan's BioToday to translate and distribute the investment newsletter Neurotech Insights in Japanese. The latest issue focused on the Schizophrenia market was launched yesterday in both English and Japanese.
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE: SEPTEMBER 30, 2005

Featured Topic: Schizophrenia Treatments: Is Newer Better
Included: Clinical Trials for Schizophrenia and Psychosis
Top News Alerts: Deals, Clinical Trials, & Stocks
Featured Company: Acadia Pharmaceuticals (ACAD)

Market summary: Stocks gain on alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and insomnia news

The biggest winner in September was Memory Pharmaceuticals (MEMY), which announced that the safety portion of its Phase II trial for Alzheimer’s is complete and the efficacy portion of the trial will now begin (see MEMY, page 4). ACADIA (ACAD) was also up this month on steady progress of their schizophrenia pipeline. NeuroInsights spoke with CEO, Uli Hacksell, and thinks ACADIA is in a good position to continue its upward climb (see ACADIA, page 6)…more

Schizophrenia: NIMH STUDY COMPARES Treatments, better options Coming

The much anticipated results of a large study of schizophrenia drugs dubbed CATIE for “Clinical Antipsychotic Trials in Intervention Effectiveness” were announced in the September 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Newer atypical antipsychotics including Eli-Lilly’s (LLY) Zyprexa, Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ) Risperdal, AstraZeneca’s (AZN) Seroquel and Pfizer’s (PFE) Geodon were compared to the older antipsychotic perphenazine, which was introduced in the 1950's. Patients who failed with all drugs were switched to Abilify, the latest drug from Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY)…

Foundations Accelerate Research and Treatments for Mental Illness

The role of organized philanthropy in mental health in the United States can be traced to the early 1900s when the Rockefeller Foundation and the Milbank Memorial Fund helped establish the National Committee for Mental Hygiene in 1909. Several decades later in 1942, the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation used extensive connections in Congress to inspire the legislation that authorized establishment of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)…

ACADIA Pharma: A new approach to mental illness

ACADIA Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ACAD) is a small company with an international presence. It is focused on schizophrenia, a huge market with a large unmet medical need. Located in San Diego, CA, with chemistry facilities in Malmo, Sweden, the company has several drugs in the clinic that promise to revolutionize the approach to mental illness…

Neurobiological technologies Presents at MCF Investor summit: sells XERECEPT RIGHTS TO CELTIC

Neurobiological Technologies, Inc (NTII) CEO, Paul Freiman, presented an intriguing story this week at the Merriman, Curhan, Ford Investor Summit in San Francisco. Citing the legendary fact that only 10 in 1000 drugs make it to clinical trials and only one out of those will actually be approved, NTI’s strategy is to in-license late stage drugs and take them through regulatory approval alone or in partnership with global marketers. So far NTI’s strategy is paying off. With only 25 employees and no basic research effort, they have one partnered drug on the market, two late stage trials underway and a full bank account, thanks to a recent $33 million deal and a $10 million credit line with Comerica…

Integra LifeSciences Acquires RADIONICS & EUNOE

Integra LifeSciences Holdings Corporation (IART) has been busy acquiring more assets this month, beefing up its product line and revenue projections. The 1,300 person, New Jersey company develops, manufactures, and markets medical devices for the neuro-trauma, neurosurgery, reconstructive surgery and general surgery markets…

To purchase this issue of Neurotech Insights or back issues on Stem Cells, Stroke and Pain click here.



Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Neurotech Industry

The Wiki Way - Collaborate with Socialtext Now

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Posted by Zack Lynch

If you work collaboratively with other individuals and want to do it easier, faster and cheaper, then you should check out enterprise wiki software from Socialtext. (Full Disclosure, I am on the Board of Advisors). Today's NYTimes has an excellent article on how financial traders are using Socialtext's collaborative workspace to price international bonds, eliminating email and conference calls in the process. The Socialtext team has pulled out all of the stops, recently receiving several million in venture funding from DFJ and SAP. This company is on an unstoppable roll. Check out Corante's blog, Many-to-Many for the latest on social software.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Writing & Blogging