We recently profiled the work by NeuroVista, a company developing an implantable oncoming epileptic seizure detector. NeuroVista seems to be very secretive about its work, and their technology has yet to begin any clinical trials.
In response to our NeuroVista story, we were contacted by NeuroPace, a Mountain View, California firm that’s working on essentially the same problem, but is already wiring up patients’ brains in a multi-hospital study. Unlike NeuroVista, NeuroPace’s RNS™ System is touted not only to detect an oncoming seizure, but is also designed to send an electric signal in attempt to disrupt the gathering electrical storm inside the brain.
From NeuroPace about their device:
The implantable components are the RNS neurostimulator and leads (tiny wires containing electrodes). The RNS neurostimulator is a battery-powered, microprocessor-controlled device that is placed within the skull and beneath the scalp by a surgeon. It is connected to one or two leads that are placed within the brain or resting on the brain surface in the area of the seizure focus. The RNS neurostimulator and leads are implanted by a neurosurgeon during a two- to five-hour procedure.
External components include a programmer and a data transmitter. Both devices use proprietary software that enable communication with an implanted RNS neurostimulator.
Physicians use the programmer to non-invasively program the detection and stimulation parameters of an implanted RNS neurostimulator. Additional features of the programmer include the ability to view the patient’s electrocorticographic (ECoG) activity (electrical activity in the cerebral cortex) in real-time. Patients use the data transmitter at home to transmit ECoGs and other information that has been stored in the RNS neurostimulator to a secure Web-based patient data management system. Physicians can review and analyze this information over the Web in-between the patient’s office appointments to help with patient management.
By continuously monitoring brain electrical activity, and after identifying the “signature” of a seizure’s onset, the RNS System can deliver brief and mild electrical stimulations with the intention of suppressing the seizure.