Imec 01.10.22  Link: click here

Imec is developing a next-generation implantable device for peripheral nerve stimulation together with NeuroGyn AG, a Swiss medtech  company specialized in neurostimulaton and surgical solutions for pelvic nerve disorders. Leveraging the expertise of imec The Netherlands at Holst Centre with respect to ultra-low power wireless communication and powering, the new solution aims at prolonging the lifetime of the device while lowering its cost, making it suitable at the point of need. Clinical validation is planned after the development phase. 

Pelvic nerves play an important role in bladder, sexual and bowel function, and movement and sensation in the legs. Injuries in or dysfunction of the pelvic organs nerves can lead to disorders related to these areas with in first line urinary urgencies and overactivities but also potential erectile dysfunction in men. First-line conservative treatments do not always lead to sufficient improvement of the complaints and/or are often associated with disabling adverse effects (with a 60 percent discontinuation of therapy as a consequence). Neurostimulation in which electrodes deliver current pulses to nerves to change their activity, can provide an effective alternative treatment option for these patients. The current off-the-shelve devices for this therapy, however, are bulky, expensive and have a limited lifetime. The high cost of pelvic neuromodulation makes reimbursement by Medicare extremely difficult, especially in the treatment of functional bladder disorders where the vast majority of patients are elderly or even retired, and makes the treatment unavailable to many patients and in many developing countries. 

“The new design aims at enabling a smaller, state-of-the-art neurostimulator with advanced capabilities that complements NeuroGyn AG’s patented surgical procedure. The project underlines our vision of making this technology readily available to anyone, including the developing world, by making the device affordable and the implantation procedure feasible by doctors at the point of need,” said Prof. Dr. Marc Possover M.D., founder and CSO of NeuroGyn AG

Imec researchers at Holst Centre are now redesigning the neurostimulator leveraging its advanced miniaturization technology, in line with the clinical expertise of NeuroGyn AG in this field. The project builds on imec’s expertise in implantable solutions, such as ultra-low power wireless communication and miniature powering, either close to the skin surface or deeper in the body. Imec has a track record in developing radio chips and systems that could be used to make recharging easier. Adding recharging capabilities to the device would improve the lifetime of the implant. Additionally, reducing battery size and implant size is aimed at making the implant minimally invasive and reducing the cost. Imec’s unique toolset for wireless communication and powering of implantables enables the development of customized solutions for medical devices. Taking into account the users and beneficiaries needs, the device can be tailored to facilitate insertion into the body and alignment of the stimulation pathway.   

“The collaboration with NeuroGyn AG is the first culmination of our work on human implantables and peripheral nerve stimulation technology and is a great opportunity to design a custom device that takes into account the customer’s clinical expertise,” said Zohaib Gulzar, business development manager, Autonomous Therapeutics. 

Imec is a research and innovation center in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. Imec leverages its R&D infrastructure and its team of more than 5,000 employees and top researchers, for R&D in advanced semiconductor and system scaling, silicon photonics, artificial intelligence, beyond 5G communications and sensing technologies, and in application domains such as health and life sciences, mobility, industry 4.0, agrifood, smart cities, sustainable energy, and education. Imec unites world-industry leaders across the semiconductor value chain, Flanders-based and international tech, pharma, medical and ICT companies, startups, and academia and knowledge centers. Imec is headquartered in Leuven (Belgium), and has research sites across Belgium, in the Netherlands, Taiwan and the United States, and offices in China, India and Japan. In 2020, imec’s revenue (P&L) totaled 680 million euros.  

NeuroGyn AG is a Swiss based medtech company developing and marketing new innovative solutions in the domain of neurotechnology, which are the result of modern R&D based on the last findings in Neuropelveology. NeuroGyn is the first company in the world developing a proprietary pacemaker and corresponding implantation apparatus for intrapelvic neuromodulation. The capability to implant a pacemaker within the body to all pelvic nerves opens the door to a whole new area of humanity. NeuroGyn has the potential to revolutionize standard treatment options for pelvic organ disorders and to introduce pelvic neuromodulation to women’s health and neuropelveology—a new groundbreaking discipline in medicine dealing with the pathologies of the intrapelvic nerves. 

Imec the Netherlands, part of imec International, is located in Eindhoven and is part of Holst Centre, an independent open-innovation R&D centre by imec and TNO. Imec the Netherlands has a longstanding expertise and excellent track record in low power wireless sensor solutions and flexible electronics—the building blocks to create an easy-to-use Internet of Things. The Intuitive Internet of Things (I2oT) department, which is part of this project, focuses on next generation wireless transducer solutions and is active in technology development for ultralow-power radio and digital signal processing, micro-power generation, storage and management, and sensor and actuator technology. Based on these building blocks, imec the Netherlands builds system solutions in the area of health and lifestyle that contain embedded algorithms and neuromorphic circuits to address specific applications.