Synchron’s endovascular implanted Brain-Computer Interface shown to be safe, enables control of computer with thought

Synchron, a brain computer interface (BCI) company, has announced the results from a study in which four people with ALS received an implant of Synchron’s Stentrode device, a small mesh-like material which is inserted endovascularly into a patient’s brain so that no invasive open-brain surgery is required. The Stentrode, is an endovascular brain implant designed to enable patients to wirelessly control digital devices through thought and improve functional independence.

The results were presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 74th Annual Meeting, in Seattle in early April.

Researchers monitored participants for one year and found the device to be safe, with no serious adverse events that led to disability or death. Stentrode also stayed in place for all four patients and the blood vessel in which the device was implanted remained open.

“People with ALS eventually lose their ability to move their limbs, making them unable to operate devices like a phone or computer,” said study author Bruce Campbell, MD, MS, of the University of Melbourne in Australia and member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Our research is exciting because while other devices require surgery that involves opening the skull, this brain-computer interface device is much less invasive. It receives electrical signals from the brain, allowing people to control a computer by thought.”

Rather than drilling through the skull, the Stentrode is fed through a patient’s vein until it reaches the brain. The device, comprised of a net-like material with 16 sensors attached, expands to line the vessel wall. That device is connected to an electronic device in the chest that then relays the brain signals from the motor cortex, the part of the brain that generates signals for movement, into commands for a laptop computer.

“These results are a huge advancement for the field of BCI. We’ve shown that our endovascular BCI approach is safe, and allows patients to accomplish daily online tasks without invasive brain surgery,” said Thomas Oxley, MD, PhD, CEO & Co-Founder at Synchron. “Years of research and technological development culminated in this moment, and as we continue to develop our technology, it has the potential to change the lives of millions of patients globally who suffer from paralysis and other debilitating neurological and brain-related diseases.”

The study was supported by Synchron, in addition to the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Office of Naval Research, the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the Australian Federal Government Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Research Institute of Australia.

The Stentrode BCI is currently being evaluated in two additional clinical trials in the US and Australia and Synchron is opening the study to a larger population of patients in both continents.

“These trials will help us ultimately reach millions of patients around the world who need it. Synchron’s approval from the FDA to complete the Early Feasibility Study puts us well on the pathway to commercialization of this technology, and ahead of any other BCI in the space,” a company spokesperson said.