Creating the technology to disrupt seizures and addiction

Neurological disorder, addiction
© iStock/tadamichi

A new scientific collaboration will see the production of new health technologies to help patients with difficult neurological disorders.

Novela Neurotech, a company developing AI-powered wireless, “smart” neural interface systems, joins Canada’s Creative Destruction Lab to adjust its health technologies to the needs of patients with difficult neurological disorders.

“Our core mission is to foster a new era of neurological treatments by focusing on their electrical signalling within the brain. Rather than flooding the brain with chemical drugs, we aim to precisely interfere with aberrant neural signalling that leads to disorders.

“To that end, we are developing a platform that accelerates these technologies at multiple stages, including pre-clinical discovery, clinical trials and post-market, real-world evidence data collection,” says Ray Iskander, Cofounder and CEO of Novela Neurotech.

Depression, addiction, epilepsy and chronic pain plague millions of people globally, yet traditional pharmaceutical solutions fail in approximately 30 percent of cases. The root causes of these mental disorders are buried within the electrical communications of complex brain circuits.

By listening in on these brain communications and decoding their messages using neural interfaces, it may be feasible to target and disrupt the brain’s signals that lead to unsafe neurological episodes, such as seizures or cravings, with a burst of electrical stimulation.

“Electrical stimulators, such as spinal cord stimulators for back pain, have been around for decades, but they’re not very adaptable and can only stimulate in a few forms.

“We are bringing the power of AI to neural stimulators, miniaturising them into seamless interfaces with the brain,” says Dr. Salam Gabran, Technical Cofounder of Novela Neurotech.

The complexity of the brain makes it extremely difficult to record from and decode messages in specific neural circuits. For the past decade, Novela Neurotech has been working on a wireless, bi-directional and flexible interface that is designed to sit within the brain and silently monitor for disease-causing electrical signals.

On 11 December, 2019 Novela Neurotech showcased its production-ready neural interface that miniaturises a roomful of equipment into a device smaller than the tip of a finger at Creative Destruction Lab, a seed-stage program that supports massively-scalable companies rooted in translational science and technology.

The device, made through state-of-the-art microfabrication technologies, is just one aspect of Novela’s Neureka platform to accelerate next-generation neurological treatments throughout the entire therapeutic developmental process. During preclinical discovery stage, the software ecosystem promotes data sharing and collaboration between neuroscientists, data scientists and neurologists. Due to the brain’s complexity and the difficulties for a single institution to gather enough data for mining, a collaborative platform is tantamount for accelerating this initial discovery phase while dramatically reducing research costs.

“Depression, addiction, and chronic pain remains some of today’s hardest disorders to manage and treat. It’s clear that neurological treatments require new therapeutic avenues in addition to pharmaceuticals.

“We’re thankful for being selected for the Creative Destruction Lab and collaborating with their strong network of accomplished mentors and investors to further bring our technologies, inventions and insights to help millions in need,” says Iskander.

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