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.