Posted On: Friday, August 4, 2017
NeuroLux is proud to announce that it has been awarded a Direct-to-Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The fund, totaling over $1.5M for two years, will support the development of next-generation devices that build on their existing commercial platform of wireless, fully implantable devices for optogenetics.
The program is a part of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative announced by the Obama administration in 2013, in which optogenetics has been one of the prioritized subjects. The methods of optogenetics allow light-induced, area-confined stimulation or inhibition of activity in genetically targeted neurons, thereby bypassing key disadvantages of electrical approaches. Although it is now widely viewed as an essential methodology in neuroscience research, existing fiber optic approaches to light delivery have limited stability in chronic studies, damage soft tissue during insertion, and constrain natural movements, thereby preventing studies in socially interacting groups or three dimensional, complex environments. New, emerging implantable systems rely on head-stages with significant size and bulk, enabled by assemblies of hardware components (batteries, Bluetooth radios, etc.) designed for other purposes. These technologies have some utility, but they retain many of the essential disadvantages of fiber optic approaches.
The technologies commercialized by NeuroLux are unlike any alternative, due to their fully implantable architecture, their ultra-miniaturized sizes, and their lightweight, low-cost construction. The essential value of the SBIR program, therefore, is in further refinement of these devices, their capabilities and the processes for manufacturing them, to allow broad distribution to the community, with the potential to revolutionize the reach and power of optogenetics methods for neuroscience research. Successful results will translate directly into new product offerings.
NeuroLux specializes in the commercialization of enabling technologies for neuroscience research, with an emphasis on advanced tools for experiments in optogenetics. The company, based in Champaign-Urbana, collaborates with the Rogers Research Group at Northwestern University, Gereau Lab, and the Bruchas Laboratory at Washington University to conduct the aforementioned research and development efforts.