Astellas to explore millimeter-sized implants for diagnosis and treatment

Iota plans to develop new biosensors through its Neural Dust platform, with the goal of monitoring the conditions of tissues and organs, as well as stimulating individual nerves. (Pixabay)

Using ultra-small device implants being developed by Iota Biosciences, Astellas Pharma hopes to explore new methods of delivering diagnostics and therapies that could work in concert with traditional treatments—or even replace them, as the company looks to create new revenue streams outside its core products.

No larger than a few millimeters, Iota’s tiny, wireless biosensors are powered by ultrasound waves from outside the body. Under a joint R&D agreement, the two companies aim to design new, purpose-built devices and conduct preclinical studies in several diseases over the coming years.

“With our Rx+ strategy, we aim to create innovative healthcare solutions that combine our strengths in the prescription drug business developed over many years with technologies and knowledge from fields outside of the traditional Rx space,” Astellas’ chief strategy officer, Naoki Okamura, said in a statement. “This agreement is part of our efforts, and we will continue to actively invest in this field.”

Virtual Roundtable

ASCO Explained: Expert predictions and takeaways from the world's biggest cancer meeting

Join FiercePharma for our ASCO pre- and post-show webinar series. We'll bring together a panel of experts to preview what to watch for at ASCO. Cancer experts will highlight closely watched data sets to be unveiled at the virtual meeting--and discuss how they could change prescribing patterns. Following the meeting, we’ll do a post-show wrap up to break down the biggest data that came out over the weekend, as well as the implications they could have for prescribers, patients and drugmakers.

RELATED: DARPA-backed team creates ultrasound-based neuromodulation implants

Astellas has previously backed the Berkeley, California-based startup, including through its U.S. venture management arm, and participated in its $15 million series A round in 2018. The financial details of the new collaboration were not disclosed.

Iota plans to develop new classes of biosensors under its Neural Dust platform, with the goal of monitoring the conditions of tissues and organs, as well as providing miniaturized electronic stimulators small enough to target individual nerves and muscles.51

A piezoelectric crystal converts ultrasound waves into electricity, to power sensing electrodes and a transistor. The device also uses the ultrasound waves to communicate and send back its data, allowing it to be placed deeper in the body than radio-controlled implants.

Suggested Articles

The FDA named more than two dozen coronavirus antibody tests that should be taken off the market weeks after the agency clamped down on tests.

Inovio CEO J. Joseph Kim is undeterred by short sellers and other detractors who doubt his company can shuttle a COVID-19 DNA vaccine to market.

The machine-learning programs scroll through data to detect hard-to-spot patterns. Yet few have been tested against standard procedures.