(In paragraph 2 of Oct. 24 story, company corrects to say that
in Singapore, device is approved for clinical trial use and its
application for registration of the product is under evaluation,
not that device is approved for commercial use)
* Combines electromagnetic stimulation with cognitive
* Approved for use in Europe, Israel, Singapore
* Neuronix explores options to raise money including
By Tova Cohen
TEL AVIV, Oct 24 Israel-based Neuronix, which
has developed a non-invasive medical device to help to treat
Alzheimer's disease, expects the system to be approved by the
U.S. Food & Drug Administration in late 2014.
The device, which combines electromagnetic stimulation with
computer-based cognitive training, is already approved for use
in Europe, Israel and several Asian countries. In Singapore it
is approved for clinical trial use and the application for
registration of the product is still under evaluation.
"You stimulate the brain on a biological level as well as on
a cognitive level," Neuronix CEO Eyal Baror told Reuters, saying
this double approach created longer-lasting benefits.
The device, which consists of a chair containing an
electronic system and software in the back and a coil placed at
the head, has been tested on mild to moderate Alzheimer's
patients who suffer from dementia but are not totally dependent.
The system is in trials at Harvard Medical School/Beth
Israel Deaconess Medical Centre. Patients are treated for one
hour a day, five days a week over six weeks.
"We see improvement lasting for 9-12 months and the good
thing is that patients can return and undergo treatment again,"
Baror said. "If out of 10 years the patients have left to live
we can keep them at home in a relatively mild state of the
disease for three, four, five years, it's a lot."
According to Alvaro Pascual-Leone, director of the
hospital's Berenson-Allen Centre for Non-invasive Brain
Stimulation, brain stimulation - or transcranial magnetic
stimulation - involves a very low current applied to a specific
part of the brain and is approved by the FDA for treatment of a
variety of ailments and diagnostic applications.
"The application in Alzheimer's disease and in combination
with cognitive training is novel," Pascual-Leono said in a phone
interview from Boston.
About 20 percent of patients experience a mild headache but
there are no long-term negative effects, he said.
Pascual-Leone, who is principal investigator in the Harvard
trial, said that of 12 patients in the study, six received the
real treatment and all showed cognitive improvement. Their
improvement was significantly more than the average seen in
patients taking just medication, he said.
The study's results will be submitted for publication in the
coming weeks and a follow-up study on 30 patients is planned.
Neuronix received European approval several months ago and
has installations in the UK and Germany. In Israel, a few dozen
patients are being treated with the device.
The U.S. trials are expected to run till the end of 2013.
Neuronix is also running a trial in Israel for pre-Alzheimer's
The company expects to sell half a dozen systems in the
second half of 2012 and three dozen in 2013. In Israel, the
treatment costs $6,000.
"Our target for becoming profitable is in parallel to
entering the U.S. market around 2015," Baror said.
Neuronix has raised $8 million from private individuals as
well as in grants from the Israeli Chief Scientist's Office and
is exploring options to raise more money in the coming year,
including the possibility of going public.
(Reporting by Tova Cohen; editing by Stephen Nisbet)