Magnetic Stim Attracts a Crowd

It wasn’t that long ago that magnetic stimulation was looked at as somewhat suspect by many in the neurotechnology industry. But now the number of new entrants in the magnetic neuromodulation space is growing steadily, supplementing existing players using magnetic devices in stimulation, neurodiagnostics, and research.

Some of the credit for this upsurge in interest in magnetic stimulation can be attributed to Neuronetics, Inc., the Malvern, PA manufacturer of transcranial magnetic stimulation systems. The company’s NeuroStar system received FDA approval for major depressive disorder in 2008, and in 2011 Neuronetics announced that Category I CPT codes were available for the procedure, making reimbursement much easier.

At least one new entrant hopes to follow in Neuronetics’ footsteps. NeoStim Inc., a startup in San Mateo, CA, often cites the existence of an FDA-cleared TMS therapy and the CPT codes as reasons why NeoStim is a sound investment [see conference report p7]. NeoStim’s device features an array of coils that the company says offers greater target selectivity than the NeuroStar system because of the multiple overlapping fields. The company plans to pursue other indications besides depression, including pain and addiction. Another startup, Israeli-based Neuronix Ltd., is developing a TMS system for treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

eNeuras Therapeutics (formerly Neuralieve) in Sunnyvale, CA is developing a single-pulse TMS device for home use for treatment of migraine. Its SpringTMS Total Migraine System is placed at the back of the head for less than a minute, generating a focused, single magnetic pulse that induces a mild electric current in the back of the brain.

Magnetic stimulation devices are also gaining popularity in neurosensing and presurgical planning applications. Nexstim Ltd., the Finland-based manufacturer, markets its NBS navigated TMS system to neurosurgeons as an alternative to direct cortical stimulation [see article, p1]. The company is investigating other neurodiagnostic and therapeutic applications of its system, include stroke recovery and pain. One of the oldest TMS product lines in existence is the MagPro system, first introduced in 1992 and marketed under the Dantec name.

The product was sold to Medtronic in 1998 and then Alpine Biomed acquired it in 2006, before that company was sold to Natus Medical in 2009. MagVenture now handles the product line. UK-based MagStim has also been marketing its line of stimulators for many years. In 2010, the company teamed with ANT to market a magnetic neuronavigation system called Visor.

We suspect that there will be even more magnetic ventures forthcoming in the years ahead as the road to FDA approval for more invasive forms of neuromodulation continues to be difficult.

James Cavuoto
Editor and Publisher



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