Aleva scores $4.4M for next-gen DBS therapy

Deep brain stimulation is a hot topic in device circles, particularly with its promise for treating such neurological conditions as Parkinson's disease and depression. Switzerland's Aleva Neurotherapeutics is looking to make a splash with its own next-generation implants for DBS, and it has just scored 4 million Swiss francs ($4.4 million) in Series B to advance the clinical development of its products.

Lead investor Banexi Ventures Partners joined the round with private investors and existing institutional investors BioMedInvest AG, BB Biotech Ventures III and Initiative Capital Romandie.

The company says it will use the proceeds to advance its neurostimulation products through clinical development up to CE marking. Its products are based on its proprietary microDBS technology, and it is initially targeting the growing population of patients with Parkinson's disease, essential tremor and dystonia. Alzheimer's disease and dementia also could be future disease targets.

The company, of course, is welcoming the cash infusion with open arms. "We are very pleased to have closed a Series B financing round only a few months after our initial financing and to have established a strong consortium of leading private equity investors in the healthcare field," Aleva CEO Jean-Pierre Rosat said in a statement.

According to its website, Aleva is developing three brain stimulating products: directSTIM, which is slated to improve currently available DBS procedures by reducing surgery times, side effects and re-operations; spiderSTIM, which the company hopes could eventually tackle such indications as post-traumatic stress disorders; and cortiSTIM, an implant for highly localized cortical stimulation that could possibly be used to treat essential tremors.

DBS has been shown to help patients with intractable Parkinson's or other movement disorders. But big names, including Medtronic ($MDT) and St. Jude Medical ($STJ), have looked at the pacemaker-like devices to treat psychiatric diseases like depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and Tourette's syndrome.

Recently, researchers from the Bonn University Medical Center in Germany announced that they had determined that brain pacemakers provide a long-term effect in severely depressed patients. Data from a study of 11 subjects over a two- to 5-year period showed that half of the patients experienced a reduction in symptoms of more than 50%.

"Research is still needed in this area," explained the university's Thomas Schläpfer. However, the DBS method may signify hope for people who suffer from the most severe forms of depression.

- see the Aleva release
- learn more about the German study