iota Biosciences is putting a different spin on bioelectronic devices – by using ultrasound rather than electromagnetic waves as a power source for the implants. To help it further develop its technology, dubbed the neural dust platform, the Berkeley, CA-based company recently a $15 million series A round.
The company said its millimeter-sized ultrasonic technology is aimed at offering therapeutic applications for numerous chronic conditions from inflammation to motor disorders and eventually to cognitive impairment. The firm played it close to the vest when describing how the neural dust platform would work and would not comment on the applications it was initially targeting.
“We’re going after a specific neuromodulation therapy,” Michel Maharbiz, PhD and Co-CEO, told MD+DI. “Out-of-the-box our technology will be able to both record and stimulate nerves as well as capture core body temperature.”
Maharbiz co-founded the company with Jose Carmena PhD, who also serves as Co-CEO. Proceeds from the funding round will also be used to accelerate commercialization of its breakthrough millimeter-sized ultrasonic devices.
“The company right now is funded to submit an IDE [to FDA] in May of 2020,” Maharbiz said. “The money is being used to build the device and to establish reputable contract manufacturers. In addition, the money is being used for personnel, patent-based buildout; as well as regulatory [needs].”
He added, “we anticipate that we have a 2-year runway with this money.”
The technology is about the size of a grain of sand and can avoid the dangers associated with wire- and battery-powered implantables. Because it is smaller and can be implanted deeper into the human body than traditional technologies, the neural dust technology can interface directly with specific nerve clusters, enabling more precise diagnostics and treatments.
“If you build an implant that responds to ultrasound and not to electromagnetic waves, the physics of ultrasound allows you to build millimeter steel implants,” Maharbiz said. “iota can build cubic millimeter implants that are powered [without a battery] entirely from externally transmitted ultrasound.”