Cala Health licenses Massachusetts General Hospital nerve stimulation tech

The company is looking to further develop the technology for chronic disease management.
By Dave Muoio
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Cala Health, a wearable neuromodulation therapy startup with Stanford University roots, has signed a licensing deal with Partners Healthcare affiliate Massachusetts General Hospital that will provide the former with a new nerve stimulation platform for chronic disease treatments.

According to the announcement, the technologies Cala is interested in were the product of MGH research on transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation and its non-invasive counterpart, respiratory-gated vagal afferent nerve stimulation. As part of the deal, researchers in MGH associate professor Vitaly Napadow’s lab who developed the technology will be working with Cala as scientific advisors.

“This collaboration with MGH’s cutting-edge research team provides a clear opportunity to accelerate development of wearable neuromodulation therapies for many chronic diseases,” Kate Rosenbluth, founder and CEO of Cala Health, said in a statement. “By working together, our combined team can discover, develop and deliver breakthrough therapies for patients living with these conditions.”

Cala Health develops a wearable neuromodulation therapy indicated for essential tremor, with other offerings under development focused on neurology, cardiology and psychiatry, according to the company’s website. It most recently raised $18 million back in 2016, in a round supported by Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, Lux Capital and Lightstone Ventures.

What’s the impact

Nerve stimulation is often pitted as an alternative to more disruptive pain management therapies — particularly opioids. MGH’s technologies could kick-start Cala’s existing work in the area, and thereby reducing the broader reliance on addictive treatments.

“There is a great need to offer effective therapies that are not based on drugs or invasive implants,” Napadow said in a statement. “Non-invasive neuromodulation may help address that need.”

What’s the trend

A handful of pain management wearables are already on the market. NeuroMetrix, for instance, offers a smartphone-controlled device that recently received a major facelift with Quell 2.0. SPR Therapeutics picked up 510(k) clearance for its percutaneous nerve stimulation wearable last summer, while Electrocore expanded its indication to include cluster headache prevention to its non-invasive vagus nerve stimulator, which previously had only been intended for pain management.

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