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, cites the existence of an FDA-cleared TMS therapy and the CPT codes as reasons why NeoStim is a sound investment. 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 MRI-guided TMS system NBS to neurosurgeons as an alternative to direct cortical stimulation. The company is investigating other neurodiagnostic and therapeutic applications of its system, including stroke recovery and pain.
One of the oldest TMS product lines in existence is the MagVenture’s MagPro system, first introduced in 1992 (previously marketed under Dantec, Medtronic, and Natus Medical brand names). UK-based MagStim Ltd. has also been marketing its line of TMS stimulators for many years. In 2010, the company teamed with the Dutch ANT B.V. (Advanced Neuro Technology) to market a magnetic neuronavigation system called Visor, which features integration with MRI, fMRI, and EEG.
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.
Originally published in Neurotech Business Reports, May 2011, p2