NIH funding for collaborative project on novel closed-loop neuromodulation therapy for epilepsy

A long-standing collaboration between CorTec and Dr. Nuri Firat Ince from University of Houston is now entering an exciting new phase. In an ambitious 5-year project, selected by the US-American National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a total funding of $3.7M, we will explore closed-loop neurostimulation as a new therapeutic option for treatment-resistant epilepsy. Besides Ince’s lab at the University of Houston and CorTec, the project involves the prestigious Baylor College of Medicine in Houston with 2 clinical sites.

The project follows a systematic approach to thoroughly evaluate CorTec’s Brain Interchange (BIC) system, combined with CorTec AirRay ECoG electrodes, for a novel approach towards epilepsy control. In a first phase, the recording and analysis capacities of the BIC system will be examined meticulously. Electrophysiological activity from epileptic patients that undergo a routine pre-surgical examination will be recorded in parallel by the BIC system and a standard FDA-approved recording system. This will enable the team to rigorously validate the signal quality achieved by the BIC system and to set up the signal analysis procedures for detecting signatures of epileptogenic activity.

Example Configuration of the CorTec Brain Interchange System

In previous studies (Liu et al., 2018), Dr. Ince’s team had identified stereotyped high-frequency oscillations of between 80 and 500 Hz as a novel, specific and highly selective marker for brain areas where seizures arise (seizure onset zone, SOZ). Once identified, the plan for the second phase of the project is to use the BIC interface for stimulating exactly those hotspots. The goal of this specific stimulation is to inhibit the activity at the seizure inducing areas, such that seizures can be prevented.

Electrically stimulating epileptic focus areas for seizure prevention is not per se a new concept. For instance, it is already used by the Neuropace RNS neuromodulation system. Current approaches, however, typically perform straight forward computations of neuronal activity that does not specifically identify pre-epileptic activity. Because of this, it is probably no wonder that the successes of current neuromodulation approaches have remained very moderate. The new electrophysiological signature found by Dr. Ince promises to be much more specific for identifying a seizure onset, which could be the basis for a highly effective treatment. It requires, however, sophisticated data analysis procedures, which, to date, only the BIC system is capable of providing. CorTec is proud to be part of this very ambitious endeavor and putting the BIC’s power to a real-data clinical test.

 “Dr. Ince, together with a formidable team of Drs. Curry, Quach, Gavvala and Sheth are great partners for this study, using our novel Brain Interchange technology to develop therapeutic approaches that will improve patients’ lives.” says Dr. Joern Rickert, CEO and co-founder of CorTec.

With the current project, CorTec is happy to extend a long-standing with Dr. Ince, who has been using the CorTec AirRay ECoG electrodes already in several studies for cortical mapping (Jiang et al. 2018, Asman et al. 2021).

“The customized high-density CorTec electrodes have been instrumental for a number of key findings in our lab. Their high resolution enabled an unprecedented level of precision in cortical mapping and decoding.” says Nuri Ince.

“Our surgeons have been particularly happy with the softness and flexibility of the electrodes and the proprietary cabling solutions. This has greatly facilitated the handling and all implantation procedures. And the signals that we obtained were great, too! CorTec is the only provider that offers this level of customization and quality when it comes to ECoG electrodes. Because of those extremely good previous experiences, I am very confident that also the BIC system will meet our – admittedly very daring – expectations. Together, we are really striving to make history here in trying to crack the tough nut of epilepsy control”.

Joern Rickert adds: “Without the substantial funding by the NIH, this kind of ground-breaking research would not be possible. We are highly grateful for that. Beyond that, we will also definitively continue exploring additional options for other applications of our device in neuropsychiatric diseases.”

 

Learn more about the Brain Interchange Technology.

 

References:

Grant:

UH3 NS117944-01, “Acute Modulation of Stereotyped High Frequency Oscillations with a Closed-Loop Brain Interchange System in Drug Resistant Epilepsy,”: https://reporter.nih.gov/search/zNOSuELBLU6zZvqsVPvmTA/project-details/10290984

Also see the corresponding NIH press release at:

https://uh.edu/news-events/stories/september-2021/09082021-nuri-ince-seizure-3.7m-close-loop.php

 

Jiang T, Jiang T, Wang T, Mei S, Liu Q, Li Y, Wang X, Prabhu S, Sha Z, Ince NF.

Investigation of the Influence of ECoG Grid Spatial Density on Decoding Hand Flexion and Extension.

Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2018 Jul;2018:3052-3055. doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2018.8513008. PMID: 30441039.

 

Priscella Asman, Sujit Prabhu, Dhiego Bastos, Sudhakar Tummala, Shreyas Bhavsar, Thomas Michael McHugh, Nuri Firat Ince

Unsupervised machine learning can delineate central sulcus by using the spatiotemporal characteristic of somatosensory evoked potentials.

2021 J. Neural Eng. 18 046038. doi: 10.1088/1741-2552/abf68a.

 

Liu S, Gurses C, Sha Z, Quach MM, Sencer A, Bebek N, Curry DJ, Prabhu S, Tummala S, Henry TR, Ince NF.

Stereotyped high-frequency oscillations discriminate seizure onset zones and critical functional cortex in focal epilepsy.

Brain. 2018 Mar 1;141(3):713-730. doi: 10.1093/brain/awx374. PMID: 29394328; PMCID: PMC6715109.

 

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