Firm developing device to simplify neurostimulator implantation using CT scans

Chimaera--Courtesy of Cambridge Consultants

Cambridge Consultants is developing a device that would accelerate the adoption of pain-fighting neurostimulators by simplifying and improving the procedures for delivering them to the appropriate nerve.

The company hopes doctors will someday use the hand-held Chimaera and preoperative 3-D graphical representations of patients' internal anatomy based on preoperative CT scans--for example, the pathway of their blood vessels--to guide small neurostimulators (less than a centimeter long) to the appropriate location within the body.

The device also has sensors designed to assist doctors in real time during the procedure, and is designed for use with wearable technology like Google Glass, which doctors would use to view the images and sensor information during the procedure. Once Chimaera has reached the targeted area, it deploys the neurostimulator.

"With Chimaera, what we've done is we've combined smart sensing technology, pre-operative planning, we've taken small implant form-factors; and we've combined both implant delivery with surgical tool to provide a completely connected, unified surgical system that has the potential to take a surgery that maybe only four or five people in the world can carry out today and make it accessible to a broad cross-section of general surgeons. By doing that we make it accessible to a much, much broader patient population," Cambridge Consultants associate director Simon Karger told Reuters.

He also said that using neurostimulation, migraine sufferers may someday be able to "dial-down" their pain upon the onset of a migraine. If you think that sounds like something that won't happen for a long time, you are correct. Chimaera is in the early stages of development. Cambridge Consultants is looking for a partner to develop the device for commercialization and take it through clinical trials, Reuters reports.

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If Cambridge Consultants is correct and the device proves successful, the biggest winners would be makers of neurostimulation (or neuromodulation) devices, like industry bigwigs Medtronic ($MDT), Boston Scientific ($BSX) and St. Jude Medical ($STJ), who would experience a uptick in adoption of the their technology as a result of easier and lower risk delivery procedures.

Karger explained the basics of neurostimulation to Reuters, saying, "Pain is simply a series of electrical signals as transmitted through the nervous system, whether that's pain from a broken leg or pain from a headache. So by putting an electrical signal directly into target nerves--in a known way, you need to understand the waveforms to put into that nerve--you're able to lessen, override or deliver particular signals which influences how your brain is experiencing things."

From laboratories in the U.K. and Boston, Cambridge Consultants develops prototypical hardware and software, and provides technology consulting to large and small med tech companies, according to the company website.

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