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Institute, Company Partner on Implanted Neuro Device

CorTec Brain Interchange

CorTec Brain Interchange (CorTec GmbH)

19 January 2018. A research center in Switzerland and medical engineering company in Germany are developing an implanted device to measure signals and treat disorders affecting the brain. Financial details of the agreement between the Wyss Center in Geneva, Switzerland and CorTec GmbH in Freiburg, Germany were not disclosed.

The Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering is a not-for-profit research institute developing technologies to diagnose and treat diseases of the nervous system. The research center was established with a grant from Hansjörg Wyss, a Swiss entrepreneur, who also began the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Among the center’s main projects is an implanted monitoring device for people with epilepsy to record and forecast seizures.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder where nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures with symptoms ranging from blank stares to tingling sensations to loss of consciousness. World Health Organization estimates some 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, where in many cultures people with the condition face stigma and discrimination. While epilepsy can be treated in most cases, WHO says as many as 30 percent of episodes do not respond to treatment.

CorTec, a spin-off enterprise from Freiburg University, develops implanted prosthetic devices to diagnose and treat neurological disorders. The company’s lead product is a device called the CorTec Brain Interchange, designed to diagnose tumors in the brain and paralysis, as well as epilepsy. The device implants electrodes into the brain attached to a unit that sits on the skull behind the ear.

A separate electronic package, worn by the individual and attached to the skull unit, sends electrical pulses through the electrodes, where the system both stimulates nerve cells and records brain activity. The CorTec Brain Interchange can also connect wirelessly or by cable to a separate controller with software to record brain activity, as well as analyze and adjust the timing or intensity of the electrical pulses.

The agreement provides the Wyss Center with exclusive access to the CorTec Brain Interchange, where researchers from the company and Wyss Center will develop a new implementation of the system. The new device is expected to adapt the CorTec system for epilepsy monitoring and therapy, as well as regulating tinnitus — often called ringing in the ears — and dyslexia.

George Kouvas, program manager for the Wyss Center on this project, says in a joint statement that the new system will build on the center’s work developing a minimally invasive device for the recording of global brain signals. “The system will also be capable of electrical stimulation, for diagnostic and therapeutic applications,” says Kouvas. “The collaboration with CorTec will accelerate this development and enable us to progress to clinical trials more quickly for the benefit of people with brain circuit disorders.”

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