Motif Neurotech raises $19M for brain pacemaker depression treatment

After announcing last September that it had logged the first successful implantation of its pea-sized neurostimulator for depression, Motif Neurotech has raised $18.75 million in venture capital funds to continue its development with a full clinical study.

Described as a “brain pacemaker,” the startup’s minimally invasive Motif DOT implant is aimed at severe, treatment-resistant depression. Measuring less than one centimeter across, it does not contain a battery or connect to leads. Instead, a separate magnetic coil in a wearable headset is used to wirelessly power the system, which is placed in a burr hole in the skull and does not come into contact with the brain.

The company plans to build its approach into an at-home therapy, with the device placed through a 20-minute outpatient procedure.

“Minimally-invasive bioelectronics are the future of mental health treatment,” Motif’s co-founder and CEO, Jacob Robinson, said in a statement. “30% of patients with depression don’t respond to two or more medications, and there is a significant need for additional treatment options that are effective and easily accessible.”

The company’s series A financing round was led by Arboretum Ventures and included investments from KdT Ventures, Satori Neuro, Dolby Family Ventures, re.Mind Capital, Divergent Capital, TMC Innovation, PsyMed Ventures, Empath Ventures, Capital Factory and individual investor Max Hodak.

Last year, Motif put forward a first-in-human study on the preprint server medRxiv, with researchers from Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University and UTHealth Houston showing the DOT device could be safely implanted in patients’ skulls and deliver neurostimulation to the brain.

“This tiny device, which cannot be seen once implanted, provides at-home stimulation that engages brain networks known to treat depression. This is the same brain area activated by transcranial magnetic stimulation, which is proven to treat [treatment-resistant depression] but requires frequent clinic visits and usually only provides temporary relief,” Motif co-founder Sameer Sheth said at the time.