Speaker 1: This device is made to be inserted into the brain, allowing people living with paralysis to control their phones, computers, and beyond, using only their thoughts.
Speaker 2: I can talk to you with my thoughts.
Speaker 1: We visited Synch Cron, the company, developing this technology to learn about how it works, how it gets into the brain without open brain surgery, and what it’s like to use, let’s check it out. The dream of controlling computers with brainwaves known as a brain computer interface, or B C I for short, has [00:00:30] been around for decades so far. Most of these technologies have primarily stayed within the domain of clinical trials and studies, especially when it comes to devices that are actually implanted inside the skull itself. Syncro aims to change that.
Speaker 3: Syncro is bringing electronics into the brain in a minimally invasive way, and it’s going to be useful for brain computer interfaces, for brain monitoring, for brain mapping, and for brain stimulation.
Speaker 1: Syncro says it’s been able to get around the need for open brain surgery by building off of stents and catheters, [00:01:00] preexisting medical devices that enter the body via the blood vessels.
Speaker 3: We enter into the jugular vein in the neck, make our way up into the brain, and then the stent opens up over that area of the brain called the motor cortex, and it communicates wirelessly with the outside world to control personal devices.
Speaker 1: The resulting implant is called a stent rde, and the full system is called the synch Kron switch. Oxley demonstrated the insertion for us on a model brain used for training by doctors before they go on to perform the procedure on human beings.
Speaker 3: [00:01:30] So I’m just going to open this and then this is going to go up through the jugular vein up into the brain. And now we deploy the device.
Speaker 1: Tom said that the prevalence of cath labs, places where catheter-based procedures occur, creates a good jumping off point for the stent road to become a more widely accessible medical device.
Speaker 3: Our philosophy for A B C I to be successful for a large number of people to be scalable, is that it had to be simple. And one way to do that [00:02:00] is to really simplify what you’re looking for in the brain patterns. And in the part of the brain that we’re in, there are aggregations of activity that represent attempted movement.
Speaker 1: The antennas inside the stent rde pick up the signals inside the brain and the syncro switch transmits them wirelessly to perform the desired action.
Speaker 3: The simplest elements of control are point and click,
Speaker 4: Stare at it, and think about moving for a long time, and it’ll start zooming in and release. So you’ve made a click, your first click with your brain
Speaker 5: Love.
Speaker 3: [00:02:30] You’re going to see videos of our patients using iOS to send health reports to do text messaging in combination with other accessibility platforms like eye tracking. Getting back your ability to control a personal device can be hugely empowering.
Speaker 1: Like a traditional stent, the stent road is made to remain inside the body indefinitely.
Speaker 3: The biggest risk of the procedure is that there can be a blunt clot that forms inside the device when it’s sitting inside [00:03:00] the blood vessel. But what happens over about a 90 day period, cells grow over the device and it incorporates into the wall of the blood vessel, kind of like a tattoo from that point on, the risk of blood clotting is much lower, but patients are still staying on aspirin after the device has been inserted.
Speaker 1: A common concern when dealing with any sort of internet connected device is privacy, let alone a device that can listen to and interpret your thoughts.
Speaker 3: If privacy concerns are real, if there was [00:03:30] to be a privacy leak at worst, it would be able to predict as a corollary the way that you were, say, moving your mouse on a screen. And there’s a history of other implanted devices like cardiac pacemakers and cochlear hearing devices that also have privacy concerns. So in this field, it’s highly regulated and we work with the F D A to meet very high standards.
Speaker 1: The 10th patient to receive the Synchron switch implant was the last required for synch. Ron’s current round of clinical testing and one more pivotal trial will be required Before [00:04:00] getting market approval from the F D A,
Speaker 3: We were the first company to enroll and now complete enrollment for a human implantable clinical trial. So it’s a very exciting time, and the patients that we’ve worked with have been an inspiration
Speaker 1: With a less invasive root inside the brain. Synch. Ron’s technology could open up a lot of other possibilities for treatment monitoring and beyond.
Speaker 3: When people have seizures, they have to go to their doctor and the doctor says, how many seizures have you had? And you can’t actually remember when a seizure [00:04:30] happens. So there is an absence of technology that monitors long-term brain activity. And then another big area is deep brain stimulation, and the first example was Parkinson’s disease. So you see these videos of people having a brain implant, they switch on the device and the tremor stops. That typically requires open brain surgery. And so there is a need to look for less invasive examples of how we can control those sorts of conditions. And we think that the blood vessels are, again, an avenue that are going to [00:05:00] provide treatment options where typically have required open brain surgery.
Speaker 1: Oxley says the syn cron switch will cost between 50 to a hundred thousand dollars, and he hinted that the company is working on integrating AI into its technology.
Speaker 3: We’re really excited about the interaction between our switch system and open AI or chat g t type integrations.
Speaker 1: As always, thanks so much for watching. I’m your host, Jesse Orl. See you next time with the family.