Chronic pain is a well-known phenomenon worldwide, and it is estimated that 20-40% of the global population will develop chronic pain in their lifetime, significantly reducing the individual’s quality of life.
In Denmark, more than one million patients suffer from chronic pain in muscles and joints. An estimated 400.000 patients in Denmark depend on pain-relieving treatment for chronic pain, which presents an enormous social- and economical effect on society, not to mention a great personal burden for the patients themselves. This leaves a need for new treatment options.
A NEW TREATMENT BASED ON BRAIN ACTIVITY
REDO - Neurosystems, a spinout company from Aalborg University, have developed a new pain alleviating treatment option. The treatment, which is based on mental and physical rehabilitation, is 100 % drug free and is solely controlled by brain activity.
Through the RELEARN software, developed by REDO - Neurosystems, the patient can learn to control their pain-related brain activity. Through a real-time visualization of the patient’s brain activity on a screen, it is possible for the patient to see how the brain responses to pain. This information can help the patient to modulate a healthy brain response on pain-related activity, meaning that the patient over time can learn to minimize the reaction to certain types of pain.
This is an essential effect, as chronic and persistent pain will activate the complex brain systems leading to an increased awareness of pain and a decrease in pain tolerance for the patient.
If the coming clinical trials are a success, the novel treatment from REDO - Neurosystems may have the potential to significantly increase patients’ quality of life and revolutionize the way chronic pain patients are treated.
FROM RESEARCH TO BUSINESS
The technology behind REDO - Neurosystems is based on several years of pioneering research at Aalborg University. Behind the research is i.a. Sabata Gervasio, Associate Professor at the Department of Health Science and Technology who since 2014 has managed the research project "A neurofeedback treatment for chronic musculoskeletal pain".
The project was based on an original idea of Natalie Mrachacz-Kersting, Professor at University of Applied Science and Arts in Dortmund (at the time Associate Professor at Aalborg University). The project focuses on chronic musculoskeletal pain, and aims to identify a non-pharmaceutical treatment that not only relieves the symptoms but also restores normal brain activity for patients with chronic pain. So far, this has resulted in a focus on neuro-feedback:
The existing type of treatment for musculoskeletal pain is ineffective and inconsistent, probably because the pain mechanisms are not fully understood. A non-pharmacological treatment, such as neuro-feedback, is designed to restore normal brain function while relieving pain symptoms.
With neuro-feedback, a feedback on specific brain waves is visualized on a screen for the patient using non-invasive recording techniques (EEG). The patient is then trained to control these waves. The neuro-feedback method has been shown to be effective for neuropathic pain or in a static situation (no movement), says Sabata Gervasio.
In addition to being a vital factor in the creation of the RELEARN software, the research project has also been a cornerstone in the formation of the team behind REDO -Neurosystems. It was in connection with the research project that the three co-founders met each other.
Co-founder and CSO Morten Kirkegaard was already involved in the research through his 9th-10th semester projects. Whereas, CEO and Co-Founder, Tor Duerlund Emanuelsen, and COO and Co-Founder, Mathis Rosenberg Sørensen was introduced to the technology by SEA and the Technology Transfer Office at Aalborg University, with the aim to build a team together with Morten Kirkegaard and commercialize the technology.
Since then, the team joined the programme Innovative Growth in 2019, starting their entrepreneurial journey, under guidance from SEA. During the process, the founders added a software engineer to the team to secure the development of the RELEARN software.
Moreover, REDO - Neurosystems have received support from Micro Grant, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Innovation Fund Denmark through their InnoFounder Graduate Programme. Most recently, REDO - Neurosystems have received an investment from private investors.
THE COMMERCIALIZATION PROCESS
In the process of securing the commercialization of the technology behind REDO - Neurosystems, AAU Technology Transfer Office and AAU Grants & Contracts have assisted the team in obtaining an exclusive license agreement on the technology in 2021. Kim Dremstrup, Head of Department at Department of Health Science and Technology at Aalborg University has supported the entire process:
Young, driven talent and the right collaboration partners has proven to be a very successful combination on the path to utilizing our department’s core research and increase the number of spinout companies from Aalborg University.
It is important that we keep our research environments open to students and help them see the opportunities in entrepreneurship and innovation. This is where they work with society's health challenges and seek out possible solutions that can strengthen our public health in the longer run. REDO - Neurosystems is a great example of this, Kim Dremstrup explains.
AAU Grants & Contracts have further assisted the department and REDO - Neurosystems in establishing collaboration and data processing agreements, to ensure that REDO - Neurosystems now, together with Associate Professor, Sabata Gervasio, can work towards the required medical technology CE approval in the upcoming clinical trials.
The collaboration with Aalborg University, the Technology Transfer Office and SEA has been essential from the beginning and it has created the foundation for where we stand today. They supplement us with the necessary knowledge and set the framework for us to build evidence, the product and the business case we work with today, says Tor Duerlund Emanuelsen.
- REDO - Neurosystems' website
- Article from MedWatch (Danish): Startup vil smertelindre ved tankens kraft – får 25.000 kr. af fond og medicinalkæmpe