Texas neurostim startup pulls in $3.4M for multiple trials

Texas device startup MicroTransponder pulled in nearly $3.4 million in new funding to back additional clinical trials using its neurostimulation technology to treat stroke and tinnitus patients. The cash will also help support continued work developing the treatment as a potential pain remedy.

Green Park & Golf Ventures, a Texas healthcare investment fund, led the latest round. The UT Horizon Fund and angel investors also participated. MicroTransponder CEO Frank McEachern said in a statement that the funding round represents a big milestone for the company, which is moving full speed ahead with a robust market goal. To date, the company says it has raised more than $25 million in both grants and private investment.

"We are committed to bringing this therapy to market," McEachern said. "Patients with neurological disease currently have too few treatment options available to them. It is essential to bring neuroscience-based innovation into the public."

Dallas-based MicroTransponder isn't the only one that feels that way, of course. A number of competitors are pursuing neurostimulation or neuromodulation devices for various indications and drawing major investment along the way. California's NeuroPace, for example, has so far raised $18 million of a hoped-for $50 million funding round, with plans to use the money to speed development of its antiepilepsy neurostimulation device implant. Spinal Modulation, fresh from a $40 million investment earlier from St. Jude Medical ($STJ) in Minnesota, has launched a pivotal U.S. trial to test its spinal cord stimulation device to treat chronic pain in a 152-patient trial. Boston Scientific ($BSX) won the FDA's go-ahead earlier this year to launch its neuromodulation implant designed to treat chronic pain, also through spinal cord stimulation.

MicroTransponder says it worked with researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas to develop a vagus nerve stimulation system with an initial focus on stroke, tinnitus, and chronic pain.

For strokes, the company has dubbed its technology the Vivistim System. A U.K. clinical trial is ongoing, testing the implant device in patients who haven't yet recovered full use of their upper limbs at least 6 months after a stroke. And plans call for launching a U.S.-based stroke trial in 2014. The company's Serenity System is designed to treat patients with tinnitus, where the ears are constantly ringing, and a U.S. clinical trial for this indication will launch later this year.

The market potential is huge for the tinnitus indication alone. As many as 2 million Americans suffer from the condition, including legions of veterans, according to statistics cited by the company.

- read the release

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