Onward Medical has today announced the successful first-in-human implant of its ARC-IM stimulator intended to restore upper-extremity function after spinal cord injury (SCI). The implanted patient also received a wireless brain-computer interface (BCI) designed to initiate thought-driven movement when paired with ARC-IM.
Onward’s ARC-IM delivers targeted, programmed ARC-IM therapy to the spinal cord to restore movement and other functions after SCI. Having already been applied across multiple clinical feasibility studies to restore mobility and stabilise blood pressure after SCI, ARC-IM therapy has now been used to restore upper-extremity movement and function for the first time as well, the company claims.
Two procedures were performed last month by neurosurgeon Jocelyne Bloch at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV) in Lausanne, Switzerland—the ARC-IM implant procedure took place on 14 August and, nine days later, the Wimagine BCI from CEA-Clinatec was also implanted.
Working alongside ARC-IM, this BCI is engineered to capture the intention of a paralysed individual to move their upper extremities, and uses artificial intelligence to decode those thoughts. ARC-IM then converts the decoded information into ARC-IM therapy via precise stimulation of the spinal cord, resulting in thought-driven movement.
“The implant procedures involving the Onward ARC-IM and Clinatec BCI went smoothly,” said Bloch. “We are now working with the patient to use this cutting-edge innovation to recover movement of his arms, hands, and fingers. We look forward to sharing more information in due course.”
This latest breakthrough is part of an ongoing clinical study investigating the safety and effectiveness of thought-initiated spinal cord stimulation after SCI. It builds on Onward’s announcement from May 2023 that pairing its ARC therapy with a BCI implant had resulted in an individual gaining augmented control over movement of his paralysed legs.
The study is supported by a grant from the European Innovation Council (Reverse Paralysis project) and is being coordinated by NeuroRestore co-directors Bloch and Grégoire Courtine (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne [EPFL], Lausanne, Switzerland), as well as Guillaume Charvet, head of the Medical Device Development Lab at CEA-Clinatec.
“This is another impressive piece of research from our partners at NeuroRestore,” said Dave Marver, CEO of Onward. “We are excited to learn how ARC-IM therapy may restore upper-extremity function after SCI, and we are eager to see how the addition of a BCI might augment our therapy. Congratulations to the teams at EPFL, CHUV and CEA-Clinatec for this breakthrough. We feel privileged that our technology is part of this research.”
According to a company press release, Onward expects to share more information about this research in the coming months, concurrent with a peer-reviewed publication describing the procedure and results.