NeuroPace reels in $74M to ramp up neurostimulation treatment for epilepsy


NeuroPace, which earned the FDA nod for its epilepsy-treating neurostimulation system in 2013, closed a $74 million round, which will go toward quickly expanding the commercialization of the device.

OrbiMed Advisors and the KCK Group led the financing. Specifically, the company will focus on fleshing out its marketing organization and deploying educational programs for both patients and physicians, such as neurologists and neurosurgeons, who specialize in treating epilepsy, said CEO Frank Fischer.

About 3.4 million people in the U.S., including 470,000 children, live with epilepsy, according to CDC estimates. The disorder is most commonly treated with antiseizure medication.

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“With anti-epileptic drugs, what will happen is a patient will get seizure control or they won’t,” Fischer said. But if a patient fails two different antiseizure drugs, a different drug, or combination of drugs, isn’t likely to work, he said.

Depending on where in the brain a patient’s seizure originates, a physician may recommend resection—surgery to remove the part of the brain responsible for seizure onset—or ablation, which uses a laser to destroy the affected area. But these options may not be suitable for every patient, and, Fischer said, there is a wide gap between the number of patients who could benefit from these treatments and those who actually receive them.

This is where NeuroPace comes in.

The RNS System is a closed-loop neurostimulation system for the treatment of adults with focal onset seizures that are not well controlled with medication alone. This type of seizure can start in one area, or group of cells, in one side of the brain, in contrast with generalized onset seizures, which affect both sides of the brain, the Epilepsy Foundation says.

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The device comprises an implantable neurostimulator with electrodes placed near the epileptic focus, the area where seizures originate. These are connected to the stimulator with tiny leads. The device continuously monitors electrical activity in the brain to determine the unique electrical signal of seizure onset in each patient, Fischer said.

It comes with a remote monitor that the patient uses to collect data from the neurostimulator to be uploaded to a data management system, where a physician may view it and use the information to guide treatment decisions.

“We are very impressed with NeuroPace’s accomplishments,” said Greg Garfield, senior managing director of the KCK Group, in a statement. “The company created the first FDA-approved device to successfully apply brain-computer interface technology to monitor brain waves, detect unusual activity and respond in a way that is imperceptible and invisible to the patient. While epilepsy is the near-term therapy focus, the potential to apply this groundbreaking technology to other neurological conditions is enormous.”