New Avenues in Neuromodulation
Implantable neurostimulation devices have the potential to ameliorate a number of debilitating conditions in which neural pathways play a role. Combined, these applications are expected to bring in device revenues of nearly $1.4 billion in the US alone in 2010, and that number is forecast to increase by double-digits going forward, reaching over $2.6 billion by 2014, according to Medtech Insight's recently published report, "US Markets for Neurostimulation Products."
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Neuronetics Inc. forged a new specialty of sorts, the interventional psychiatrist. Unlike other interventional approaches, the externally applied NeuroStar delivers transcranial magnetic stimulation to the precise area of the brain responsible for intractable depression. The device is changing the lives of psychiatrists who launched “TMS” clinics, hoping to capture the early success, and potentially creating opportunities for medical devices designed to treat other brain-related disorders.
There are signs that the field of deep brain stimulation (DBS) has gained a certain momentum of late: three start-ups raised venture rounds in 2011 and there have been two acquisitions in the space within the past year. DBS enables the giants in cardiac rhythm management – Medtronic, St. Jude Medical, and Boston Scientific –to leverage existing technology platforms from CRM to address a new area once served primarily by drugs, and start-ups can help them by validating new disease targets and increasing procedural accuracy and efficiency. The space is appealing because with a single platform, companies can address several diseases with large populations, such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease. But the opportunities remain far from certain with this highly complex technology.