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Technology Transfer and Industry News

Thursday, 08 July 2021

INBRAIN Neuroelectronics collaborates with Merck to develop the next generation of bioelectronic therapies

The ICN2 and ICREA’s spin-off INBRAIN Neurolectronics starts a collaboration with the leading biotechnology company Merck. They will develop novel graphene bioelectronics devices for vagus nerve therapies, targeting severe chronic diseases.

INBRAIN Neuroelectronics is a spin-off company from Graphene Flagship’s partners, ICN2 and ICREA, at the intersection of medtech, deeptech and digital health, founded in 2019 with the mission to develop the world’s first graphene-based intelligent neuroelectronic system. Today INBRAIN announced the starting of a collaboration with Merck, a leading science and technology company. The aim of the collaboration is to co-develop the next generation of graphene bioelectronic vagus nerve therapies, targeting severe chronic diseases in Merck’s therapeutic areas through INNERVIA Bioelectronics, a subsidiary of INBRAIN Neuroelectronics.

Both partners will closely collaborate over the next few years to actively drive this potential paradigm change in treating diseases with high unmet medical needs. With its bioelectronics research facilities, Merck can build on its data science, clinical, regulatory, and quality expertise to bring novel devices to patients in the near future. INNERVIA will add its technical expertise in the development of graphene interfaces, device development, and signal processing for clinical applications. Initial work will focus on inflammatory, metabolic, and endocrine disorders, using the promising capabilities of graphene for miniaturization, precision, and high modulation efficiency in the vagus nerve.

Altered and dysregulated nerve signals occur with many severe chronic diseases. Bioelectronic therapies aim to address a wide range of chronic disorders using small, implantable devices to modulate electrical signals passing along nerves in the body. Furthermore, neurostimulation devices are expected to become “smarter”, which will increase their energy use. Yet at the same time, they are going to be miniaturized further. These trends are creating significant challenges for the supply of power to these systems.

Improving the energy efficiency of these devices will play an important role in overcoming the power supply issue. Reduced Graphene Oxide (rGO) offers ideal material characteristics for significantly decreasing power consumption while maintaining stimulation efficacy. This is achieved through a high charge injection limit combined with very low impedance compared with all other available electrode materials. INNERVIA’s technology harnesses the power of graphene, which has unique electrical and thermal conduction properties that are still being explored.  This partnership between INBRAIN and Merck enhance this European effort to push the potential of graphene technology to the next level in the field of bioelectronics.

Read the full press release.