- Precision Neuroscience said it has used electrode technology to map brain activity in a first-in-human pilot clinical trial.
- The device features more than 1,000 electrodes in a one square centimeter flexible film that is thinner than a human hair. Neurosurgeons used the implant to map electrical activity from the surface of the brain during three surgical procedures.
- Precision is developing the device in the belief that mapping brain activity in more detail could lead to the restoration of “meaningful function” in patients with neurological illnesses and disorders.
Benjamin Rapoport, one of the founders of Elon Musk’s brain implant company Neuralink, set up Precision with Michael Mager. The startup raised $41 million early this year to advance a brain-computer interface that could rival the devices in development at Neuralink and Synchron.
Precision’s device is designed to be implanted through a slit in the skull and sit on top of the six layers of cells that make up the cerebral cortex, hence the name Layer 7 Cortical Interface. The goal is to create a device that is simple and safe to implant and retrieve, and can improve outcomes in conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury and dementia when it is placed on the brain.
The clinical trial represents an early step toward that goal. In mid-April, Neurosurgeons at West Virginia University’s Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) temporarily placed the device on the brain of a patient while removing a tumor from the organ. The device read, recorded and mapped electrical brain activity.
In two subsequent procedures, the neurosurgeons deployed the device while removing tumors from parts of the brain responsible for language. The patients were awake for part of the procedure, enabling the surgeons to use the device to identify critical language areas in real time.
“This is a remarkable achievement in real-time detection of electrical brain activity mapped with such high resolution,” Peter Konrad, chairman of the department of neurosurgery at RNI and principal investigator leading the study, said in a statement. “It’s as if I was seeing the patient’s brain think.”
Precision plans to enroll up to five patients in the current study and to start related trials at other sites, including Mount Sinai Health System, Penn Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital. Beyond that, the company is working to complete an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to study the device in diagnostic electrophysiologic mapping procedures lasting up to 30 days.