Abbott Partners with NIH on BRAIN Initiative to Use Neuromodulation Technologies

Joana Carvalho, PhD avatar

by Joana Carvalho, PhD |

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Abbott is partnering with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to explore the use of its neuromodulation technologies for treating chronic pain and progressive movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease.

The partnership’s goal is to drive forward the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies initiative, known as BRAIN, which is working to accelerate neuroscience research.

With this collaboration agreement, Abbott will make its proprietary neuromodulation technologies available for research purposes. These include directional deep brain stimulation (DBS), spinal cord stimulation (SCS), and dorsal root ganglion (DRG) therapy, which have already been shown to be beneficial in treating several conditions affecting the central nervous system.

Researchers will now be able to explore ways to use these technologies to fill knowledge gaps in the field of neuroscience and, at the same time, find new strategies to apply them to treat chronic and progressive neurological disorders.

“The NIH is investigating the application of these devices for the treatment of a wide range of neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions and chronic pain,” Nick B. Langhals, PhD, program director for neural engineering in the division of translational research at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), said in a press release.

“The neuromodulation technologies provided by Abbott will help us determine the inner workings of the nervous system to help fill gaps in our current knowledge of the brain and provide opportunities for exploring how the brain interacts with the human body in patients with neurological conditions,” Langhals added.

The  BRAIN initiative, launched in 2013, seeks to understand how the human brain works, especially in a context of disease, by taking advantage of innovative technologies. It also is working to establish new “out-of-the-box” applications for currently available technologies. Its goal is to show how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact in both time and space.

To date, the BRAIN initiative has gathered partners and contributors from diverse backgrounds, including federal agencies, public organizations, Congress, and even the media.

“Researchers at Abbott are continuously striving to better understand how neuromodulation technology can benefit people living with chronic pain or movement disorders,” said Keith Boettiger, vice president of neuromodulation at Abbott. “In addition to our own research efforts, including clinical and real-world studies, working together with world-class scientists at the NIH will help us further validate our neuromodulation therapies and explore new avenues where they may benefit patients affected by devastating neurological conditions.”

With the support of NINDS and the BRAIN initiative, researchers have developed an experimental DBS system that uses brain signals to fine tune its activity in response to signs of dyskinesia, or uncontrolled body movement. This approach may potentially represent a more refined way to ease motor problems in Parkinson’s patients.

During the 5th Annual BRAIN Initiative Investigators Meeting, recently held in Washington, D.C., partners from the BRAIN initiative discussed scientific advancements in the neuroscience field, and identified areas for collaboration and research coordination.