ImThera Medical Generating Buzz Over Neurostimulation for Sleep Apnea

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the implanted device on and off, and to recharge it.

Ofer Jacobowitz, an assistant professor in Columbia University’s Department of Otorhinolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, describes neurostimulation as “an exciting new approach” for treating obstructive sleep apnea.

But Jacobowitz, who has no vested interest in ImThera, told me by e-mail: “Neurostimulation of the tongue will need to be studied for effectiveness and patient adherence. Effectiveness could depend on [the] algorithm of stimulation, which may need to be personalized. Neurostimulation may not be effective for all comers, and stimulation may not be tolerated by all.” Jacobowitz also tells me there are many alternatives that are less invasive for sleep apnea patients, including oral appliances, surgery (which he says can be successful), weight loss, positional therapy, and Expiratory Air Pressure (EPAP) devices.

Marcelo Lima

Marcelo Lima

Lima says he co-founded ImThera in 2004, taking a board seat while he was still president of Visage Imaging, a Carlsbad, CA-based subsidiary of Massachusetts’ Mercury Computer Systems that specializes in computerized processing and visualization of diagnostic medical imaging technologies. Lima says he raised $5.1 million from angel investors, initially to better understand how the hypoglossal nerve works and subsequently to develop ImThera’s neurostimulation technology.

At the time of ImThera’s founding, Lima says, neurostimulation technologies had advanced across a broad front in previous years, and implantable devices were successfully being used to block chronic back pain in the spine, control epileptic seizures, and even to stimulate the sacral nerve to control incontinence. He estimates that … Next Page »

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