This article was originally published in Start Up
Neuronetics Inc. has developed a device for treating serious depression in pharmaco-resistant patients. The company believes that its repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation technology, delivered noninvasively in an outpatient setting, is free of the serious side effects that accompany antidepressant drugs; moreover that it will be more effective and much safer for patients than the only currently approved neuromodulation technology for depression: electroconvulsive therapy.
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Neuronetics Inc. forged a new specialty of sorts, the interventional psychiatrist. Unlike other interventional approaches, the externally applied NeuroStar delivers transcranial magnetic stimulation to the precise area of the brain responsible for intractable depression. The device is changing the lives of psychiatrists who launched “TMS” clinics, hoping to capture the early success, and potentially creating opportunities for medical devices designed to treat other brain-related disorders.
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The seeds planted in neurostimulation ventures over the past 10 years have produced more disappointments than results, but the fallow period is over. The Food & Drug Administration recently cleared Neuronetics to begin selling its NeuroStar TMS as a treatment for people who haven't responded to a drug regimen taken during their current episode of depression. This is good news for scores of venture-backed neurostimulation companies, although Neuronetics is somewhat unique. It is developing a non-invasive device that delivers magnetic, rather than electrical pulses.