Eight winners have been exclusively invited to join Phase 2 of the Neuromod Prize, a $9.8 million competition to accelerate the development of targeted neuromodulation therapies. With the competition, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) hopes to bridge the gap between early-stage research and clinical use, bringing innovative neuromodulation therapies to patients. 

Phase 2 participants will create proof-of-concept designs using diverse approaches to stimulate a range of targets, including the spinal cord, sacral, pelvic, and vagus nerves. The competition will provide access to subject matter experts to help teams meet Phase 2 requirements and advance their solutions. Up to four Phase 2 winners will be selected by a judging panel, according to Phase 2 evaluation criteria, and receive an equal distribution of the $4 million Phase 2 prize pool. 

Learn more about the teams:

  • Anthony F. DiMarco, M.D. High-frequency spinal cord stimulation reduces respiratory tract infections and improves bowel management in people with neurological impairment.
  • BIOS Health. The Autonomic Therapy Initiative, data-driven stimulations of the vagus nerve using neural biomarkers, modulates cardiac function and minimizes side effects on off target organs.
  • General Electric Research, in collaboration with Northwell Health and Yale University. A single, image-guided ultrasound treatment induces a response in the gut-brain sensory pathway to provide sustained remission in Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
  • Neuroengineering & Pain Research (NPR) Lab at the University of Connecticut. Synchronized pulse and sinusoidal stimulation of sacral dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and nerve roots relieves chronic visceral pain in the lower abdominal organs by selectively blocking C-fiber neural transmission.
  • RBI Medical. Ultraprecise, selective pelvic neuromodulation therapy treats stress urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, and fecal incontinence using a minimally invasive micro-implant.
  • University of Louisville Research Foundation Inc. StimXS, neuromodulation of the lumbosacral spinal cord, automatically regulates cardiovascular, respiratory, and urinary systems after spinal cord injury. 
  • University of Pittsburgh Department of Urology. A multichannel implantable device for sacral-pudendal neuromodulation addresses bladder, bowel, and sexual disorders.
  • Warren Grill and collaborators, Duke Biomedical Engineering. Electrical recording and stimulation of the sacral nerve with closed-loop bioelectronic control restores bladder and bowel function.

Opportunity to accelerate the development of targeted neuromodulation therapies

In January 2022, NIH launched Phase 1 of the Neuromod Prize, calling on scientists, engineers, and clinicians to submit novel concepts and plans for development. 45 participants submitted concept papers, describing their proposed therapeutic approach and plan for conducting proof-of-concept studies, rationale for therapeutic use, and potential clinical impact.

Solutions were then evaluated against the ability to demonstrate potential for high scientific advancement and clinical impact by selectively targeting multiple autonomic functions to improve outcomes for patients and/or clinicians while mitigating major off-target effects. Eight winners were selected by a judging panel, according to Phase 1 evaluation criteria, and each winner received $100,000. 

Phase 2 participants will submit their designs by December 1, 2023. Up to four Phase 2 winners will be exclusively invited to participate in the planned Phase 3 of the competition, which is anticipated to include conducting IDE-enabling studies and a total prize pool of $5 million.

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