Motif Neurotech Successfully Implements Brain Stimulation with Miniaturized Implantable Device for Treating Treatment-Resistant Depression in Humans

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Motif Neurotech, a neurotechnology firm focused on the development of minimally invasive bioelectronics for mental health applications, has released recent research findings on the medRxiv preprint server. These findings illustrate the effective use of a millimeter-sized brain stimulation device in a human participant.

The research was a collaborative effort involving teams from Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, and UTHealth Houston. The procedure was conducted at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center. In the course of intraoperative studies, the research team successfully demonstrated the safe and effective use of their miniature brain stimulator without direct contact with the brain's surface. Additionally, their implants exhibited safety and efficacy in providing brain stimulation during large animal studies lasting over a month.

Motif Neurotech is currently in the process of developing a miniature brain pacemaker designed to precisely stimulate the brain, aiming to restore healthy circuit activity for the treatment of mental health disorders. This implant, roughly the size of a pea, can be inserted during a brief 20-minute outpatient procedure, allowing for at-home therapy with minimal side effects compared to pharmaceutical treatments. The primary focus of the company's efforts is on treating treatment-resistant depression (TRD), which is a severe form of major depressive disorder (MDD).

MDD affects a substantial number of individuals worldwide and stands as the leading cause of disability on a global scale. Approximately one-third of MDD patients, equivalent to roughly 2.8 million Americans annually, do not respond to two or more different antidepressant drugs, leading to TRD or refractory depression. With each failed treatment, the likelihood of symptom improvement diminishes, and after the fourth unsuccessful treatment, up to 83% of patients may experience a relapse. TRD places a significant annual financial burden on the healthcare system, amounting to $43.8 billion.
Jacob Robinson, Ph.D., CEO & Founder of Motif Neurotech, expressed, "We've developed what we believe is the smallest implantable brain stimulator demonstrated in a human subject. Our wireless, battery-free device will enable a minimally-invasive neurostimulation solution to treat neuropsychiatric diseases such as TRD. With our technology, a short outpatient procedure will enable long-lasting therapy with very few side effects compared to drugs."

Sameer Sheth, M.D., Ph.D., Co-Founder of Motif Neurotech and a neurosurgeon at Baylor College of Medicine, explained, "This tiny device, which cannot be seen once implanted, provides at-home stimulation that engages brain networks known to treat depression. This is the same brain area activated by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which is proven to treat TRD but requires frequent clinic visits and usually only provides temporary relief. This new at-home based therapy has the potential to revolutionize the treatment options for patients with depression."

Motif's neuromodulation system is designed to consist of a precisely targeted implant and a wearable headset for at-home use to deliver episodic neuromodulation, an approach that has demonstrated effectiveness in treating TRD. Traditional neuromodulation systems have limitations due to their reliance on implantable pulse generators with built-in batteries and wired leads, which can lead to various potential points of failure.
Overall, the development of this innovative treatment approach could have a substantial positive impact on the lives of individuals suffering from treatment-resistant depression and other mental health disorders.

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