Current Edition

Merck partners with start-up for neurostimulator development

Merck has announced a collaboration in its new Bioelectronics innovation field with neuroloop GmbH – a B. Braun subsidiary and early-stage start-up company based in Germany.

The collaboration seeks to develop a neurostimulator device that can complement the existing drug therapies of patients with chronic inflammatory diseases. While drug therapies often have broad systemic effects, bioelectronic devices can create localized and specific therapeutic effects by selectively stimulating nerves. The partners plan to adapt neuroloop’s neurostimulation platform to enable targeted treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases.

Rather than only providing stimulation, novel bioelectronic devices also have the potential to monitor the disease condition. Combining nerve signals with other accessible physiological datasets can help to create a holistic understanding of disease conditions. neuroloop has developed a platform to stimulate the vagal nerve for the treatment of chronic diseases in connection with autonomous body functions. The core of the platform is a multichannel cuff-electrode based on thin-film technology, which enables selective stimulation of specific fibers within the nerve. The primary focus is not only on high clinical effectiveness but also on the greatest possible safety, minimal side effects for the patient and simple use for the caregiver.

neuroloop GmbH will contribute unique technical expertise in selective neurostimulators to the partnership and Merck will add its key capabilities in material science and in vivo pharmacology as well as quality, regulatory and clinical expertise in the field of chronic inflammatory diseases. Initial data are expected to be available by the end of 2022, which will then be used to evaluate a clinical strategy to prove the safety and efficacy in patients. The full development will target approval in major markets, such as the European Union and the United States.

Belén Garijo, Chair of the Executive Board and CEO of Merck said: “Bioelectronic devices show great promise in helping to improve therapeutic outcomes and efficiency for patients with chronic inflammatory diseases. By combining our expertise across electronics, medicines and drug delivery with the neurostimulation technologies of B. Braun and neuroloop, we aim to create novel modalities to enhance the quality of care for patients in several chronic diseases.”

Michael Lauk, CEO of neuroloop said: “Identifying the specific disease-relevant nerve signal patterns and subsequently modulating these signals via stimulation are major challenges in the field of bioelectronics. Together with the strong preclinical and clinical expertise of Merck and our platform which enables multi-channel selective stimulation, we are well-positioned to potentially solve these crucial challenges and offer neurostimulator treatment to patients suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases.”