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Neuralink Rival Synchron to Launch Brain Implant Device Trial

Written by : Jayati Dubey

April 9, 2024

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The company aims to include patients paralyzed due to conditions such as ALS, stroke, and multiple sclerosis in the trial.

Synchron Inc, a competitor to Elon Musk's Neuralink brain implant startup, is gearing up to launch a large-scale clinical trial for its brain implant device, aiming to secure commercial approval.

The brain implant device called a brain-computer interface (BCI), enables paralyzed individuals to control electronic devices such as computers and smartphones using their thoughts.

The company's CEO, Thomas Oxley, revealed plans to recruit participants for the trial and has garnered interest from numerous clinical trial centers to facilitate the study.

Reportedly, Synchron will unveil an online registry for potential trial participants, marking a crucial step in its quest for commercial approval.

Further, Oxley emphasized the importance of enabling local physicians to engage with patients affected by motor impairment, ensuring a smooth recruitment process for the trial.

The New York-based company is progressing swiftly in its testing phase compared to Neuralink. Both entities share the common goal of assisting paralyzed individuals in typing on computers by interpreting brain signals.

Synchron gained preliminary US authorization for testing in July 2021 and has already implanted its device in six patients, following successful prior testing in Australia.

Preparations for Larger Study

Synchron is poised to analyze data from its US trials to prepare for the upcoming larger study while awaiting authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The company aims to include patients paralyzed due to conditions such as ALS, stroke, and multiple sclerosis in the trial.

Collaborating institutions including Mount Sinai in New York, the University at Buffalo Neurosurgery, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) are actively participating in the preliminary study.

Affirming the progress of the ongoing testing, Dr David Lacomis from UPMC's Neuromuscular Division, said, "Subjects continue to be monitored for safety and an extensive amount of data are being collected as the brain implant is being used. A much larger pivotal trial is in the planning stages."

Synchron and Neuralink operate within the niche of brain-computer interface (BCI) devices, with electrodes facilitating direct communication with computers. While no company has yet received final FDA approval for a BCI brain implant, both entities are pioneering innovations in the field.

Investors Backing

Synchron, backed by investors such as Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, aims to revolutionize the BCI market by delivering its device via a large vein adjacent to the brain's motor cortex. This approach differs from Neuralink's method of surgically implanting devices into the brain cortex.

The FDA's directive for Synchron to screen stroke patients underscores the company's commitment to expanding treatment accessibility. By targeting a broader patient demographic, Synchron seeks to ensure the sustainability of its market presence.

In previous trials, Synchron demonstrated promising results, with patients achieving typing speeds surpassing non-invasive devices. The company's ongoing US trial aims to validate these findings further and pave the way for commercialization.

Synchron acquired an equity stake in medical component maker Acquandas to bolster manufacturing capabilities. While Elon Musk has shown interest in Synchron in the past, the company continues to pursue its goals independently.

As the company progresses on its path to commercialization, stakeholders eagerly anticipate the transformative impact of its advanced technology on individuals with motor impairments.


About Chime India

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an executive organization dedicated to serving senior digital health leaders. CHIME includes more than 5,000 members in 56 countries and two US territories and partners with over 150 healthcare IT businesses and professional services firms. CHIME enables its members and business partners to collaborate, exchange ideas, develop professionally and advocate the effective use of information management to improve the health and care throughout the communities they serve. CHIME's members are chief information officers (CIOs), chief medical information officers (CMIOs), chief nursing information officers (CNIOs), chief innovation officers (CIOs), chief digital officers (CDOs), and other senior healthcare leaders. The CHIME India Chapter became the first international chapter outside North America in 2016 and is now a community of over 70+ members in India. For more information, please visit www.chimecentral.org

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