Clearing the Hurdles

Implanted electrodes in the human brain represent one of the most critical components of a neuromodulation device—and one of the most crucial areas of research and development in the neurotechnology industry. As we report in our article on page 1 of this issue, dealing with the response of brain tissue surrounding a neural implant remains a key challenge. But many other challenges confront neural engineers, neurosurgeons, and commercial firms seeking to improve implanted brain stimulation and recording devices.

We’re pleased to report that we will be discussing many of the technological, marketing, and societal issues surrounding brain implants in several sessions at the 2018 Neurotech Leaders Forum in October. Our two keynote speakers, neuroprosthetics pioneer Hunter Peckham and NeuroPace CEO Frank Fischer, have each amassed considerable experience bringing implanted neurotech devices out of the lab and into clinical practice. They will share their observations on what it takes to overcome the technological, regulatory, and clinical issues involved with developing a new neurotech therapy.

A session titled “Probing the Lead” on October 15 will examine key advances in neural interface technology. Neural engineers from IMEC Life Sciences and Cactus Semiconductor will discuss recent innovations in materials, components, and manufacturing methods.

On October 16, several pioneering neurosurgeons and neural engineers, including Philip Starr from UC San Francisco and Dan Rizzuto from Penn, will explore the limits of brain stimulation and sensing technology. The session will look at what’s achievable in the next five to 10 years but also what ethical boundaries should be put in place to protect patients. Also on October 16, a session moderated by Joe Bird of Maynard Cooper will explore the translational issues involved with bringing an implanted neurotech device—or a neurotech startup firm—out of a university research lab and into the commercial marketplace. And a panel moderated by NBR senior editor Jennifer French will explore the use of cortical stimulation devices in neurorehabilitation for both neuromuscular and cognitive disorders.

Also on the agenda in San Francisco will be CEOs of several startup neurotechnology firms developing new implanted brain devices to treat a variety of neurological diseases and disorders. Together, this cast of entrepreneurs, clinicians, and neural engineering researchers will cover the gamut of issues that will confront the neurotech industry in the years ahead as we seek to create the perfect brain implant.

We look forward to seeing many of our readers in San Francisco this fall.

James Cavuoto
Editor and Publisher

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