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Precision Neuroscience, founded by Neuralink alum, raises $41 million

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A suite of precision neuroscience

Source: Precision Neuroscience

The human cortex is made up of six cell layers, and at Precision Neuroscience, a team of scientists and engineers are working to build a device that evokes the seventh.

The device is called Layer 7 cortical interfaceThis is a brain implant intended to enable paralyzed patients to operate digital devices using only nerve signals. This means that patients with severe degenerative diseases like ALS regain the ability to communicate with their loved ones by moving the cursor, typing and accessing social media.

The seventh layer is a Scotch tape-like electrode array that is thinner than a human hair, allowing it to conform to the surface of the brain without damaging tissue.

Founded in 2021, Precision is one of many companies in the emerging Brain Computer Interface (BCI) industry. A BCI is a system that decodes brain signals and translates them into commands for external technology, and several companies have successfully created devices with this capability.

Precision was co-founded by Benjamin Rapoport. Elon Musk’s BCI company, Neuralink, and Michael Mager. But whereas Neuralink’s BCI is designed to be implanted directly into brain tissue, Precision relies on surgical techniques designed to be minimally invasive.

Precision Neuroscience’s Stephanie Rider inspects the company’s microelectrode array.

Source: Precision Neuroscience

To implant a Layer 7 array, the surgeon makes a very thin slit in the skull and inserts the device into the letterbox like a letter. Mager, who is also CEO of Precision, said the slit is so small, he said, less than a millimeter thick, that patients don’t even need to shave their hair for the surgery.

“I think this is a big advantage compared to techniques that require, for example, a craniotomy to remove a significant portion of the skull, which takes a lot of time and carries a higher risk of infection.” he told CNBC. “I’ve never met anyone who wanted a hole in their skull.”

Due to the nature of the procedure, Precision can easily scale up the number of electrodes on the array. This, Magger says, will eventually allow the device to be used for neurological applications beyond paralysis.

This procedure can also be reversed if the patient decides they no longer need the implant or need a newer version in the future.

“As we begin to think about rolling this out to a wider patient population, the risks and rewards of any procedure are fundamental considerations for anyone considering medical technology,” Mager said. If the system is irreversible or potentially damaging when explanted, it means the commitment to get the implant is much greater.”

Jacob Robinson, associate professor of electrical engineering at Rice University and founder of BCI company Motif Neurotech, says Precision is making exciting progress in the minimally invasive BCI field. He said it’s not just patients who have to weigh the risks and benefits of the procedure, but doctors and insurance companies alike.

Physicians need to weigh procedures quantitatively based on existing literature, and insurance companies need to weigh patient costs, says Robinson, so less invasive surgery is better for all three. It becomes easier.

“It’s less risky, but it also means we have the opportunity to treat more people, which means more adoption,” he said.

But because the device isn’t inserted directly into brain tissue, the resolution of brain signals isn’t as strong as some other BCI devices, Robinson said.

“You get a lot better resolution than you get from outside the skull, but not as much resolution into tissue,” he said. “But there’s a lot you can do with this kind of medium scale.”

Precision has successfully decoded nerve signals in animals using a layer 7 device, and Mager hopes to get FDA approval to test the technology on humans in the coming months. thinking about.

The company $41 million Series B funding round On Wednesday, that total was $53 million in less than two years. The funding will allow Precision to hone its product, hire more employees, and accelerate toward FDA regulatory review. This is a goal Precision is quickly working towards, he said, Mager.

“I don’t want the next 15 years to be like the last 15 years. In the next 15 years, this will save dozens of people. So I think we’re in a hurry,” he said. “What we consistently hear [from patients] “We want this, and we want it sooner or later.”

Mager said he believes this year has proven to be a “watershed year” for neurotechnology, and that there has been a lot of positive momentum in the BCI space in terms of fundraising.

He said he understands that skepticism exists around BCI and the technology as a whole, but he believes it has real potential to make a difference for millions of people suffering from neurological disorders.

“In many ways, I think the brain is the next frontier for modern medicine,” he said. “The fact that there are so many people with some kind of neurological disorder, and that we have crude tools to give them, is changing. It’s changing.”

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