NeuroNexus acquisition by Greatbatch: silicon-based probes are getting closer to clinical market

In recent years, the medical manufacturing company Greatbatch Inc. has made several steps indicating its ambition to become a major player in the neuroprosthetic device arena, currently dominated by Medtronic, St. Jude, and Boston Scientific. Until recently, Greatbatch’s two subsidiaries, Greatbatch Medical and Electrochem Solutions, were mostly known for producing the pacemakers, vascular catheters, orthopedic implants, leads, and batteries. The company does not market any neurostimulation devices, although several other manufacturers use Greatbatch’s batteries and leads in their neuromodulation implants (e.g. obstructive sleep apnea device by Inspire Medical). In fact, 95% of all pulse generators worldwide contain at least one Greatbatch’s component. In 2008, Greatbatch created the QiG Group, its third subsidiary, with a goal of making targeted investments in innovative cardiovascular catheters and neuromodulation devices. Last year, QiG has started the Algostim brand of spinal cord stimulation devices to treat chronic pain, The QiG has also invested, along with Boston Scientific, into Intelect Medical, an early-stage company developing deep brain stimulation devices for traumatic brain injury, and stroke. And most recently, on February 17, 2012, Greatbatch’s QiG Group announced its acquisition of NeuroNexus for $12 million. Dr. Daryl Kipke, NeuroNexus President and CEO, indicated that its technologies would be used to develop novel “neuromodulation clinical therapies”. It remains to be seen whether the Greatbatch’s definition of “neuromodulation” will be modified, as the key NeuroNexus technologies, the high-density silicon-based electrodes and their interconnects, are more suited toward neuroprosthetic rather than neuromodulation therapies. But, in any case, this news brings us one step closer to a long-awaited clinical trial of probes developed using the semiconductor microfabrication technologies.

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