Every year between 250 000 and 500 000 people suffer a spinal cord injury around the world, perhaps one of the most traumatic injuries a person can suffer. These injuries typically result in some form of paralysis, and patients are at risk of developing secondary conditions that can be debilitating and even life threatening, including deep vein thrombosis and respiratory complications. As a consequence, patients incur extensive medical bills and have a lifetime need for rehabilitation and attendant care. Misconceptions, negative attitudes and physical barriers to basic mobility also result in the exclusion of many people from full participation in society.
The Dutch-Swiss medtech startup G-Therapeutics, based in Lausanne and Eindhoven, has developed an implantable neuro-stimulation system and a robot-assisted training program to rehabilitate individuals with spinal cord injury. The novel approach awake dormant neural circuits and guide their reorganization so patients regain voluntary control. Specifically, the implantable system deliver electrical pulses to the correct nerves at the appropriate timing to facilitate raising and lowering the legs and feet during walking, while giving real-time motion feedback and intent-driven rehabilitation. This combinations of neuro-stimulation and will-powered training results in a massive remodeling of neural connections, restoring voluntary control over paralyzed limbs. The innovative treatment has previously restored voluntary control in fully paralyzed animals with a success rate close to 100 percent.
The fundamentally new treatment paradigm could not only transform how we treat spinal cord injuries, but also transform the lives of people who are close to five times more likely to die prematurely. It could significantly improve mortality rates and quality of life for millions of people who face exclusion from full participation in society. The approach not only alleviate physical and social burdens, but also has the potential to significantly decrease the extensive costs associated with spinal cord injuries. Acute care, rehabilitation services and ongoing health maintenance are essential for prevention and management of secondary conditions, and the innovative technology by G-Therapeutics could save tremendous costs for patients and their families, health insurances and the state.
G-Therapeutics is a spinoff from the Swiss Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and the startup recently announced they had raised EUR 36 million to develop its novel neuro-stimulation therapy. EUR 26 millions is raised in a Series A investment round co-led by LSP, INKEF Capital, Gimv and Wellington Partners, in addition to receiving a EUR 10 million loan from the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs. The funding will be used to bring the unique therapy from the lab to patients, and subsequently perform a multi-center clinical study to obtain regulatory approval.