Funding received for implant to treat brain disorders

28th July 2020
Lanna Cooper

Graphene Flagship spin-off, INBRAIN Neuroelectronics has just received a €1m investment from Sabadell Asabys, Alta Life Sciences, ICF and Finaves. This spin-off was born from Graphene Flagship partners the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) and ICREA to speed up the development of novel graphene-based implants to optimise the treatment of brain disorders, such as Parkinson's and epilepsy.

According to a 2010 study commissioned by the European Brain Council, the cost of brain disorders in Europe alone reaches approximately €800bn a year, with more than one-third of the population affected. The high incidence of brain-related diseases worldwide and their huge social cost call for greater investments in basic research in this field, with the aim of developing new and more efficient therapeutic and diagnostic tools.

INBRAIN Neuroelectronics, now a Graphene Flagship Associate Member, was established in 2019 with the mission to develop brain-implants based on graphene technology for application in patients with epilepsy, Parkinson's and other neuronal diseases. These smart devices, built around an innovative graphene electrode, will decode with high fidelity neural signals from the brain and produce a therapeutic response adapted to the clinical condition of the specific patient.

Four new investors have recently boosted this spin-off with a total of €1m. These include Asabys and Alta Life Sciences, collaborating through the Sabadell-Asabys funds, as well as the Institut Català de Finances (ICF) and Finaves, a venture fund promoted and managed by IESE Business School. The new investment will allow INBRAIN to accelerate the development of these novel intracranial implants for patients affected by brain disorders.

INBRAIN designs the least invasive and smartest neural interface on the market that, powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the use of Big Data, will have the ability to read and modulate brain activity, detect specific biomarkers and trigger adaptive responses to deliver optimal results in personalised neurological therapies.

So far, the technology has been validated in in-vitro and in-vivo biocompatibility and toxicity tests and it has been successfully used to complete studies on small animals. INBRAIN will further validate the technology through tests on large animals with the aim of ensuring that these graphene devices are safe, as well as superior to current solutions based on metals such as platinum and iridium. The company also plans to start human studies soon.

INBRAIN was founded, among others, by Jose Garrido and Kostas Kostarelos, from Graphene Flagship partner ICN2 and Anton Guimerà, IMB-CNM, an institute within Graphene Flagship partner CSIC.

"Within the framework of the EU-funded Graphene Flagship, we were able to develop this novel graphene-based technology that will allow measuring and stimulating neuronal activity in the brain with a resolution much higher than that of current commercial technologies," explained Garrido.

During 2019, the incorporation of INBRAIN was a priority project for the ICN2 Business and Innovation Department, which coordinated the technology transfer process and successfully orchestrated the licensing of this high potential technology.

INBRAIN CEO, Carolina Aguilar explained: "Minimally invasive electronic therapies represent a revolutionary alternative with less potential cost for health systems. In our case, the application of new 2D materials such as graphene represents a real opportunity to understand how the brain works to optimise and personalise the treatment."

Graphene Flagship Head of Innovation, Kari Hjelt, added: "It is great to witness the development of INBRAIN bringing graphene from laboratories to market. Graphene offers unique capabilities to enhance multiple product attributes concurrently. Innovation at INBRAIN showcases the power of graphene in biomedical applications where its biocompatibility, electrical properties and flexibility make it a superior choice over many conventional materials."

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