Precision Neuroscience Array
Source: Precision Neuroscience
The human cerebral cortex is made up of six cellular layers, but at Precision Neuroscience, a team of scientists and engineers is working on a device that mimics the seventh.
The device is called the Layer 7 Cortical Interface, and it’s a brain implant that aims to help stroke patients operate digital devices using only neural signals. This means that patients with severe degenerative diseases like ALS will regain the ability to communicate with their loved ones by moving a cursor, typing and even accessing social media with their brains.
Layer 7 is an electrode array that resembles a piece of Scotch tape and is thinner than a human hair, which helps it conform to the surface of the brain without damaging any tissue.
Precision, founded in 2021, is one of many companies in the emerging brain-computer interface, or BCI, industry. A BCI is a system that understands brain signals and translates them into commands for external technologies, and several companies have successfully created devices with this capability.
Precision was co-founded by Benjamin Rapoport, who also co-founded Elon Musk’s BCI company, Neuralink, and Michael Major. But while Neuralink’s BCI is designed to be implanted directly into brain tissue, the precision relies on a surgical technique designed to be less invasive.
Stephanie Ryder of Precision Neuroscience examines the company’s microelectrode array.
Source: Precision Neuroscience
To implant the Layer 7 array, a surgeon makes a very thin cut in the skull and slides in the device like a letter in a letterbox. Major, who is also Precision’s CEO, said the slit is less than a millimeter thick – so small that patients don’t even need to shave their hair for the procedure.
“I think that’s a big advantage over technologies that require, for example, a craniotomy, to remove a significant part of the skull, which takes a lot of time and carries a lot of risk of infection,” he told CNBC. It happens,” he told CNBC. “I’ve never met anyone who wanted a hole in their skull.”
The nature of the method allows precision to easily scale the number of electrodes on the array, which Major said will eventually allow the device to be used for neurological applications beyond stroke.
The procedure may also change if patients decide they no longer want implants or new versions in the future.
“As you start to think about rolling it out to a larger patient population, the risk-reward of any procedure is a fundamental consideration for anyone considering medical technology,” Major said. “If your system is either irreversible, or potentially harmful upon explantation, it just means that the commitment you’re making to get an implant is too high.”
Jacob Robinson, associate professor of electrical engineering at Rice University and founder of BCI company Motif Neurotech, said Precision is making exciting advances in the minimally invasive BCI space. It’s not just patients who have to weigh the risks and benefits of a procedure, he said, but also doctors and insurance companies.
Doctors have to weigh procedures quantitatively and based on existing literature, while insurance companies have to weigh costs for their patients, Robinson said, so less invasive surgery makes it easier on all three parties.
“It’s lower risk, but it also means there’s a chance to treat more people, more adoption,” he said.
But because the device isn’t inserted directly into brain tissue, Robinson said the resolution of brain signals won’t be as strong as it is with some other BCI devices.
“You get much better resolution outside the skull, not as much resolution as you go into the tissue,” he said. “But you can do a lot with this kind of medium.”
has successfully used its Layer 7 device to decode neural signals in healthy animals, and Meijer said he plans to seek FDA approval to test the technology in humans in the coming months. Have hope.
The company announced a $41 million Series B funding round on Wednesday, bringing its total to $53 million in less than two years. The funding will allow Precision to improve its products, hire more employees and accelerate the FDA’s regulatory review, Major said, adding that Precision is moving quickly.
“We don’t want the next 15 years to be like the last 15 years, where it helps a few dozen people. So I think we’re in a hurry.” “What we hear constantly. [from patients] It’s, ‘We want this, and we want it sooner, not later.’
Major said he thinks this year is turning out to be a “watershed year” in neurotechnology, and that there has been a lot of positive momentum in the BCI space in terms of funding.
While he said he understands the skepticism surrounding BCIs and the technology as a whole, Major said he thinks there is real potential to make a difference for millions of people with neurological conditions.
“I think the brain is, in many ways, the next frontier for modern medicine,” he said. “The fact that there are so many people who have some kind of neurological disorder, and that we have such crude tools to offer them, that’s going to change. It’s changing.”