Market for Implanted Epilepsy Sensing Devices Emerges

by James Cavuoto, editor

August 2020 issue

The market for implanted neurosensing devices is driven in large part by applications in epilepsy, including presurgical planning and seizure monitoring. In recent months, several research institutions and commercial firms across the globe have made progress at developing long-term implantable seizure monitors.

These new devices could take the place of patients’ seizure diaries, which neurologists currently rely on to record and count epileptic seizures outside the clinic. This low-tech method fails to offer meaningful data such as effects of medication and seizure frequency.

A recent article published in the journal Epilepsia describes how an innovative approach that records neural activity from beneath the scalp could provide a reliable alternative to subjective seizure diaries. These innovative devices are subscalp EEG systems that are minimally invasive and could remain underneath the scalp for long periods of time. Maxime Baud, epileptologist at Bern University Hospital, Wyss Center Staff neurologist, and co-author of the paper said: “Our current epilepsy treatment plans are primarily based on short-term brain activity data from EEG caps during a hospital visit. Epileptic seizures can occur months apart and come in cycles, so we need ways to, continuously and accurately, monitor brain activity in the home environment.”

Six new technologies, commercially available or under development, are described in the paper each with a different primary value including seizure counting and recording, seizure forecasting and alerting, and neurostimulation. These minimally invasive techniques may help avoid some of the risks linked to directly intervening in the brain.

One of the subscalp devices is Minder, being developed by the Australian company Epi-Minder. Currently in clinical trials, the device’s multichannel electrode is placed across the skull so that both brain hemispheres are covered. “Through long-term and continuous EEG measurements, Minder aims to provide accurate knowledge of brain activity and seizures to help people with epilepsy take back control of their lives,” said Mark Cook, chair of medicine at the University of Melbourne, and a co-author of the paper.

Another technology reviewed in the paper is the Wyss Center’s Epios system, designed to offer flexible subscalp configurations, from focal or bitemporal electrode layouts to broad head coverage and high-channel-count neural recording, through a series of thin sensing electrodes connected to a miniature implant, all inserted beneath the skin. The neural signals are wirelessly transmitted to an external receiver, while a wearable data processor enhances brain data with heart rate, accelerometry, and audio data and uploads it to the Epios Cloud.

“In parallel to the recording devices, we are constantly optimizing our high performance analytics software with algorithms that could help clinicians draw meaningful conclusions from the vast amount of data recorded by these long-term systems,” George Kouvas, CTO at the Wyss Center and co-author of the paper said. “We are already working towards adapting these new technologies to help patients with other brain disorders manage their daily life, such as with tinnitus and stroke,” Kouvas added.

Future uses for long-term, subscalp brain monitoring include biomarker detection and efficacy monitoring of pharmaceuticals as well as well as closed-loop neuromodulation applications.


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