MotifDot prototype brain implant Motif Neurotech
To-scale rendering of the prototype Motif DOT microstimulator used in first-in-human and large animal studies. [Image courtesy of Motif Neurotech]

Motif Neurotech today announced new research highlighting the use of its millimeter-sized brain stimulator in a human subject.

Houston-based Motif Neurotech develops a miniature brain pacemaker designed to precisely stimulate the brain. It restores healthy circuit activity to treat mental health disorders. The pea-sized implant, which goes in during a 20-minute outpatient procedure, has capabilities for at-home therapy.

Motif Neurotech says it should produce minimal side effects compared to drugs. Its lead product treats treatment-resistant depression (TRD), a form of major depressive disorder (MDD).

The company conducted the study in collaboration with researchers at Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine and UTHealth Houston. The human procedure took place at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center.

In intraoperative studies, the implant demonstrated safe and effective stimulation of the human brain without contacting the brain surface. The researchers also showed safe and effective brain stimulation in large animal studies lasting over 30 days.

“We’ve developed what we believe is the smallest implantable brain stimulator demonstrated in a human subject. Our wireless, battery-free device will enable a minimally-invasive neurostimulation solution to treat neuropsychiatric diseases such as TRD. With our technology, a short outpatient procedure will enable long-lasting therapy with very few side effects compared to drugs,” said Jacob Robinson, CEO & founder of Motif Neurotech. “The growing trend of increasing efficacy and reduced invasiveness may soon make neuromodulation to treat mental health as common as pacemakers in cardiology.”

More about Motif Neurotech and its tiny neuromodulation device

Motif Neurotech MotifDOt prototype rendering
The assembled device is only 9 mm across, approximately the size of a pea. [Image courtesy of Motif Neurotech]

Dr. Sameer Sheth, professor of neurosurgery at Baylor, said the tiny device engages brain networks known to treat depression. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) also activates this brain area as a TRD treatment, Sheth said. However, according to the doctor, it requires frequent clinic visits and “usually only provides temporary relief.”

“This new at-home based therapy has the potential to revolutionize the treatment options for patients with depression,” Sheth said.

Traditional neuromodulation systems have limitations due to reliance on implantable pulse generators, Motif Neurotech says. Those generators have built-in batteries and wired leads, which can lead to potential points of failure like lead fractures, migration and battery failure.

Motif Neurotech aims to topple existing brain stimulation treatments and address the areas in which they fall short. Its precisely targeted implant and wearable headset for at-home use deliver episodic neuromodulation. The company believes this demonstrates effectiveness in treating TRD.

Earlier this year, Motif brought on Steven Goetz, a Medtronic neuromodulation veteran, as chief technology officer. Goetz said at the time that the company “has developed an elegant new way to deliver neuromodulation therapy to the brain that avoids many of the barriers of more invasive approaches.”

“Building on positive proof-of-concept data, Motif technology promises to change the lives of 2.8 million people with TRD who suffer a major depressive episode but do not respond to antidepressants each year,” he said.