The Year in Review

As years go, 2004 was better in many respects than the three that preceded it. From a financial standpoint, the biggest news was undoubtedly Boston Scientific Corp.’s purchase of Advanced Bionics [NBR Jun04 p1], a deal that could be worth $2 billion or more. This valuation has profoundly affected the venture capital community’s perception of the neurotechnology industry [see article, p1]. Probably the biggest disappointment of the year was the FDA’s decision to ignore its own neurological devices panel recommendation and deny Cyberonics’ PMA-Supplement for VNS treatment for resistant depression, a decision that appears all the more disappointing given recent accusations of excessive coziness between FDA regulators and the pharmaceutical industry.

But between these two extremes, there were a number of significant developments in neurotechnology in 2004 that continue to highlight the maturation of the industry. The establishment of the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Biomimetic Microelectronic Systems [NBR Jan04 p1], was one such development, as was the announcement of a new advanced prosthetics program at DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office [NBR Nov04 p4]. The National Institutes of Health’s first Neural Interfaces Workshop, which merged the Neural Prosthesis Workshop with the DBS Consortium, was another highlight.

On the technology front, there was significant progress in areas such as EEG interpretation, brain-computer interfaces, cortical stimulation for stroke rehabilitation, deep brain stimulation, magnetic stimulation, neural-silicon hybrids, retinal implants, neurorobotics, and controlling neural growth. New product categories that emerged in 2004 include occipital nerve stimulation systems [NBR Oct04 p1], rechargeable spinal cord stimulation systems, and navigated brain stimulation [NBR Aug04 p1].

New entrants in the industry were prosthetics vendor Innovative Neurotronics, Inc., implantable probe supplier NeuroNexus Technologies, cortical plasticity firm Restorative Therapies, Inc., and neurorehabilitation firm Bioness, Inc. Initial public offerings included NeuroMetrix, which brought in $24 million, and Stereotaxis, which fetched $40 million.

Of course, there were many other noteworthy commercial and research activities in 2004, and we’re actively seeking input from our readers to select the winners of the 2004 Gold Electrode Awards. As we did last year, we will be recognizing individuals and organizations in five categories: best new product, most promising startup, most valuable non-profit, most useful financial professional, and neurotechnology researcher of the year. If you would like to nominate someone, send an email to us by January 12. Our editors will make the final selections, which we’ll announce in our next issue.

We wish all of our readers a happy new year and a prosperous 2005.

James Cavuoto
Editor and Publisher



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