Philips spinout grabs $9.9M for Parkinson's DBS trial

A spinout of the Dutch conglomerate Royal Philips Electronics nabbed nearly $10 million in new venture funding to back ongoing development of a deep-brain stimulation (DBS) implant to treat Parkinson's disease.

Sapiens Steering Brain Stimulation, which is based in Germany and the Netherlands, previously raised just under $22 million in Series A funding from Wellington Partners, Edmond De Rothschild Investment Partners, LSP and the Wellcome Trust back in 2011. This new funding round of just over $9.9 million supplements that earlier investment with one new backer: the Dutch investment group INKEF Capital.

Sapiens' latest funding represents solid support for a company launched in 2011 in a hot device-related market space. Larger companies including Medtronic ($MDT) and St. Jude Medical ($STJ) either have or are developing DBS devices for various indications including depression. Another one in the mix is Functional Neuromodulation, a Medtronic-backed company developing a DBS implant designed to treat Alzheimer's by slowing or possibly reversing the cognitive decline typical of the neurodegenerative disease. Switzerland's Aleva, meanwhile, is raising money for its own DBS device designed to treat both Parkinson's and depression.

For Sapiens, the money will help support the company's development push for its Steering Brain Stimulation implant. Initial Parkinson's patients have already enrolled in a safety and performance-related clinical trial, involving patients at AMC hospital in Amsterdam. Early results are expected by the second half of 2013.

Sapiens already has a leg up in Europe, where DBS has approval to treat everything from Parkinson's to obsessive-compulsive disorder and epilepsy. Sapiens' implant uses mild electrical pulses to specific regions of the brain by way of an implanted lead connected to a battery-powered pulse generator, which is also implanted, as the company explained. But the company believes its version will be able to keep electrical pulses from parts of the brain that could generate side effects.

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