Bioelectronics developer Cala Health partners up with MGH against chronic diseases

Leti’s space quantum sensor.
The collaboration is based on research into the connections between nerve stimulation and the brain's regulation of the heart and body. (Pixabay)

Wearable bioelectronics developer Cala Health has launched a collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital to help build out its noninvasive nerve stimulation platform for chronic diseases.

In addition—through the hospital’s intellectual property management arm, Partners HealthCare Innovation—Cala has licensed neuromodulation technology developed in the lab of MGH’s Vitaly Napadow, which has explored neural mechanisms related to chronic pain and the brain’s reactions to different forms of stimulation, including acupuncture.

The licensed tech covers both transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation as well as respiratory-gated vagal afferent nerve stimulation, where pulses are synced to exhaling breaths to regulate the heart, and has been studied as a treatment for high blood pressure.

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Under the deal, members of the MGH research team who created the technology will work with Cala as scientific advisors during its development.

“This collaboration is the result of years of research and development on the links between brain and cardiac function, and our team is excited to be working with an established company that has experience taking new devices through clinical studies and regulatory clearance,” said Jill Goldstein, executive director of the Women, Heart and Brain Global Initiative, a multi-department collaboration between MGH and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Cala received a de novo clearance from the FDA in April 2018 for its wearable device that treats essential tremors in the hands by stimulating the peripheral nerves in the wrist through the skin.

The company is currently testing a newer version of the device, more similar to a smartwatch worn on the wrist, than the previous version of pads connected to separate hardware. Its is also developing neuromodulation therapies in neurology, cardiology and psychiatry.

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