2022 in Review

As years go, 2022 was not as lucrative for the neurotechnology industry as some prior years, including 2021. Investor concern about the general state of the economy certainly had an impact on funding activity. But there were still some noteworthy investments in the neurotech space, including a $104 million round for Nalu Medical and a $77 million round for Cala Health. And although the size of early rounds wasn’t quite as large as last year, a good number of neurotech startups raised A rounds in the $10- to $20-million range. Among these were CIONIC, Synergia Medical, Epiminder, and Axsoft. The NIH’s new Blueprint program was one of several government-sponsored initiatives.

Some of the more significant developments in the neuromodulation industry included the legal settlement between Boston Scientific and Nevro over stimulation parameters, Abbott’s reentry in the DBS depression market, and the advent of diabetic neuropathy as a new clinical indication for spinal cord stimulation. CMS’ payment decisions for noninvasive stimulation were good news for some vendors—notable Cala Health—but bad news for others. Stimwave’s chapter 11 bankruptcy filing and ongoing litigation with its founder was one negative development, though that firm’s technology is likely to survive under a different name [see article, p5].

There was significant progress in 2022 at developing more robust therapies for indications beyond chronic pain and movement disorders. Indeed several indications that had failed to achieve commercial success in previous years, including depression, stroke, Alzheimer’s and spinal cord injury, have earned a second look from investors as multiple players now offer promising neuromodulation therapies in each. In Alzheimer’s, three different neuromodulation firms have been granted breakthrough device status, including Functional Neuromodulation with its DBS fornix therapy, NeuroEM with its wearable electromagnetic therapy, and Cognito Therapeutics, with its photomodulation system.

Key regulatory approvals in 2022 include Saluda Medical’s Evoke system, Magnus Medical’s Saint TMS system for depression, WISE srl’s cortical strip electrode, and NeuraLace’s Axon therapy.

The year ended with a kick in the teeth for SCS vendors in the form of a highly critical article published in JAMA Neurology [see article p1]. The neuromodulation industry has weathered previous journal articles and news reports that cast doubt on the effectiveness of SCS therapy for treating chronic pain, but this most recent is likely to lead to more open warfare with the insurance and pharma interests who stand at the gate. But despite this, and despite the uncertainty about the overall economy in 2023, we still see good things ahead for the neurotech industry.

James Cavuoto
Editor and Publisher


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