Dec 10, 2018
As the Chief Executive Officer of Nia Therapeutics, Dan Rizzuto and his team
are currently developing a neurological implant that increases the
memory of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s diseases and
traumatic brain injury. By using deep brain stimulation (DBS) to
increase high frequency functions and decrease low frequency
functions in areas important to memory, such as the frontal lobe,
Nia Therapeutics has successfully improved memory
capability by 18%. Though this is only the beginning for a new neurotechnology, Rizzuto and his team provide hope for patients suffering from debilitating diseases to be able to fully function
again and experience healthy aging.
Nia Therapeutics is currently recruiting hardware engineers. The
listing for this profession is
Important Research Concerning Topic:
Burke et al. (2014) Human intracranial high-frequency activity maps episodic memory formation in space and time. Neuroimage, 85: 834–843.
This paper from our group identifies the intracranial biomarkers of human memory. High-frequency activity in specific brain regions during the encoding of new memories predicts whether subjects will remember the information at a later time.
Ezzyat et al (2017) Direct Brain
Stimulation Modulates Encoding States and Memory Performance in
Humans. Current Biology 27(9):1251-1258.
This paper illustrates how direct brain stimulation can be used to modulate memory performance. In 36 patients with implanted electrodes we demonstrated both positive and negative effects on recall performance, depending on the timing of stimulation relative to the patient's ongoing brain activity.
Ezzyat et al (2018) Closed-loop stimulation of temporal cortex rescues functional networks and improves memory. Nature Communications, 9(1):365.This recent paper from our team shows how precisely timed and targeted brain stimulation was used to reliably improve word recall performance in 25 patients with implanted electrodes.
Top Three Takeaways:
1. Biomarkers for high memory capability include increased high-frequency activity and decreased low-frequency activity in certain areas of the brain.
2. An 18% increase in memory compounds over time greatly increasing the capabilities of a person.
3. No major side-effects have been noted as of now; the potential for memory improvement still continues to grow for those suffering from traumatic brain injury.
[0:00] Nia Therapeutics seeks to improve memory for patients suffering from traumatic brain injury through an implant.
[2:00] The company developed in January of 2018 as part of the Restoring Active Memory Project funded by DARPA.
[4:00] There are clear biomarkers that indicate good or bad memory.
[7:00] With the known biomarkers, the brain can be stimulated into a mode of good memory.
[8:45] The biomarkers of good memory encoding in the brain mirror the biomarkers of good retrieval.
[10:15] This technology is specifically meant for those suffering from traumatic brain injury and neurodegenerative diseases.
[12:30] There was a documented 18% increase in memory from the implantable device; this would move 25% of memory-impaired individuals from disabled to nondisabled.
[14:30] Memory increase compounds over time.
[16:00] There are still surgical risks associated with this treatment.
[19:30] No major side-effects have been documented.
[22:00] Rizzuto recently closed Nia’s first financing of over one million dollars.
[24:00] The funding will be enough to design a platform; extensive testing through the FDA is still necessary.
[28:00] Patients are the unsung heroes of the clinical trials.
[30:00] Many of the patients who volunteered suffered from epilepsy which is an effect of traumatic brain injury.
[32:00] Some patients experienced 30-40% memory improvement; the idea of this technology is to restore memory.