Synchron secures $52 million to launch US clinical trials of implantable brain device to help severely paralysed patients
Synchron, a brain interface platform company founded by University of Melbourne Associate Professors Thomas Oxley and Nicholas Opie, has secured AU$52 million in a Series B investment round led by Silicon Valley capital firm, Khosla Ventures.
The funding will enable researchers to further develop its implantable brain computer interface technology, including Stentrode™, through clinical trials in the United States.
Stentrode™ is a tiny device the size of a small paperclip that has been shown to help patients with upper limb paralysis to text, email and even shop online, in the first human trial conducted at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia.
Neurointerventionalist and CEO of Synchron, Associate Professor Oxley, said the funding will pave the way towards approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the US – a crucial step towards making the technology available to physicians.
“This technology has the potential to help millions of patients and will profoundly change what we previously thought was possible,” Associate Professor Oxley said.
“By using the blood vessels as the natural highway into the brain, we can access all areas, which traditionally required open surgery and removal of skull in multiple locations.”
The University invested in the Series B round, alongside Khosla Ventures and other investors.
University of Melbourne Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Mark Hargreaves congratulated Associate Professor Oxley and the Synchron team.
“This announcement is an excellent example of how clinical need can be addressed through university research and translated into a sustainable commercial outcome that can change lives,” Professor Hargreaves said.
“I am delighted that the University, along with our valued precinct partners, continues to be a research collaborator. We look forward to ongoing work with the company on this exciting development journey.”
A minimally invasive brain implant designed to enable patients to wirelessly control digital devices through thought and improve functional independence, Stentrode™, a part of the Synchron brain-computer interface, was developed by researchers from the University of Melbourne, the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Monash University and the company Synchron. Synchron is a leader in the field of implantable brain-computer interfaces, already evaluating a commercial product in the clinical stage. It was established by Associate Professors Thomas Oxley (CEO) and Nicholas Opie (CTO) and aims to develop and commercialise neural bionics technology and products. Synchron draws on some of the world’s leading medical and engineering minds. Associate Professors Oxley and Opie are also co-heads of the University’s Vascular Bionics Laboratory.