First-in-Human Implant to Restore Arm Function

The Netherlands-based Onward Medical announced that it completed the first-in-human implant.

Image Credits: Onward Medical

Onward Medical announced that it completed the first-in-human implant of its ARC-IM stimulator for restoring upper extremity function.

Eindhoven, The Netherlands-based Onward designed the stimulator to restore function after spinal cord injury (SCI). The patient also received a wireless brain-computer interface (BCI) for initiating thought-driven movement when paired with ARC-IM.

ONWARD ARC-IM delivers targeted, programmed ARC-IM Therapy to the spinal cord to restore movement and other functions after spinal cord injury. ARC-IM Therapy has been applied across multiple clinical feasibility studies to restore mobility and stabilize blood pressure after SCI. For the first time, ARC-IM Therapy has now also been used to restore upper extremity movement and function.

Two procedures were performed last month by neurosurgeon Jocelyne Bloch, MD, at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV) in Lausanne, Switzerland. The ARC-IM implant procedure took place on August 14, 2023, and nine days later the BCI WIMAGINE® from CEA-Clinatec was implanted.

Working in concert with ARC-IM, the BCI is engineered to capture the intention of a paralyzed individual to move their upper extremities and uses artificial intelligence to decode those thoughts. ARC-IM then converts the decoded information into ARC-IM Therapy - precise stimulation of the spinal cord - resulting in thought-driven movement.

“The implant procedures involving the ONWARD ARC-IM and Clinatec BCI went smoothly,” said Dr. Jocelyne Bloch. “We are now working with the patient to use this cutting-edge innovation to recover movement of his arms, hands, and fingers. We look forward to sharing more information in due course.”

This latest breakthrough is part of an ongoing clinical study investigating the safety and effectiveness of thought-initiated spinal cord stimulation after SCI. It builds on the ONWARD announcement from May 2023 that pairing its ARC Therapy with a BCI implant resulted in an individual gaining augmented control over the movement of his paralyzed legs. The study is supported by a grant from the European Innovation Council (Reverse Paralysis project) and is coordinated by NeuroRestore co-Directors – Professor GrégoireCourtine and Dr. Jocelyne Bloch – as well as Guillaume Charvet, head of the Medical Device Development Lab at CEA-Clinatec.

Related: Cala Health's Neurostimulation System Treats Parkinson's

“This is another impressive piece of research from our partners at NeuroRestore. We are excited to learn how ARC-IM Therapy may restore upper extremity function after SCI, and we are eager to see how the addition of a BCI might augment our therapy,” said Dave Marver, CEO of ONWARD.“Congratulations to the teams at EPFL, CHUV, and CEA-Clinatec for this breakthrough. We feel privileged that our technology is part of this research.”

The Company expects to share more information about this pioneering research in the coming months, concurrent with a peer-reviewed publication describing the procedure and results.

About ONWARD Medical

ONWARD is a medical technology company creating therapies to restore movement, function, and independence in people with spinal cord injury(SCI) and movement disabilities. Building on more than a decade of science and preclinical research conducted at leading neuroscience laboratories, the Company has received nine Breakthrough Device Designations from the US Food and Drug Administration for its ARC Therapy platform.

Sam Draper
October 5, 2023

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