ST. PAUL, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sometimes the best answer is right under your nose. A promising new investigational technology, first envisioned 20 years ago by a Nobel-nominated medical researcher and now advanced by a Minnesota device company intent on commercializing accessible, cost-effective solutions, is catching the attention of the fast-growing Alzheimer’s disease advocacy community. The approach of Wedge Therapeutics: use a simple nose catheter to target nerve trunks and stimulate the brain structures that control memory and cognition.
The patented technology — called SONS — will be delivered in a simple outpatient procedure that applies small, adjustable and targeted electrical impulses through the nasal cavity to access up to 32 distinct nerve trunks that stimulate the brain. The unique approach has the opportunity to be a low-risk yet highly effective and widely accessible option for addressing various Central Nervous System (CNS) diseases including Alzheimer's.
The SONS technology — or Sphenoid and Olfactory Nerve Stimulation System — may well become a household name someday, thanks to Wedge Therapeutics, which is currently shepherding the technology through the lengthy FDA regulatory process.
“I hear from scores of Alzheimer’s families, and it breaks my heart because I am one of them,” says Wedge Therapeutics President and CEO, Bob Wieden, whose company acquired the overlooked patents for the technology in 2013, and whose family has been directly affected by the disease. “We believe this technology will make a world of difference quickly because it targets a region of the brain that provides nerve access that controls memory and cognition and does so in a relatively low-tech but highly effective manner. It’s exactly what families are looking for.”
“SONS can be thought of as a new kind of deep brain stimulation but for the first time it is being done outside the brain – which would be a huge advance,” said Dr. Jessica Shantha, who specializes in ophthalmology at Emory University Hospitals and has researched SONS. “The goal is to administer deep brain stimulation in a minimally invasive and reversible fashion that large patient populations can embrace, instead of being afraid of the risk of brain surgery and its complications.”
The SONS technology addresses neurological diseases, where treatment has been dominated by pharmaceutical approaches that have invested billions of dollars, but yielded little in terms of meaningful results — perhaps at the expense of simpler, technology-based approaches. Over the past decade, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) has been commercialized as an effective treatment option for some neurological diseases, especially Parkinson’s. But the implanted devices require complicated and risky brain surgery, costing upwards of $120,000, and in most countries, it is not covered by insurance. The empirical question that has to be asked is whether it’s a lasting therapy if it’s something that most people in the world, even in developed nations, cannot afford.
“There are 44 million people in the world estimated to be living with Alzheimer’s, and the direct costs of this disease are projected to be more than $1.2 trillion by 2050 in the U.S., alone,” said Wieden. “For families currently coping with neurodegenerative conditions, we hope to offer a meaningful and manageable device treatment in the near future.”
Bringing new medical technologies to market is an expensive proposition for any company, and to expedite the regulatory and commercialization of SONS for the vast Alzheimer’s community, it is currently looking to raise additional investment and to forge industry partnerships.
SONS may be the “why didn’t I think of that?” medical solution of the next decade that Alzheimer’s families help shake loose from those who embrace expensive pharma-based and overly complex invasive solutions. And in the process, force conventional wisdom to no longer look down their noses at all the available options.
About Wedge Therapeutics
Wedge Therapeutics is a privately held medical device development company based in St. Paul, Minn. that is developing technology that targets the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. For more information on Wedge Therapeutics and to watch a video about the SONS System, please visit its website at www.wedgetherapeutics.com or call (651) 688-7754.