NIH BRDG-SPAN and SBIR Grants Awarded To Support Clinical Development of Brain Remediation Programs for Schizophrenia and Stroke
(SAN FRANCISCO) Brain Plasticity Inc. (BPI), a new technology incubator dedicated to the discovery and development of novel technologies that harness the basic principles of brain plasticity to improve the lives of people with neurological and psychiatric disorders, was recently awarded $3.65 million dollars in two separate grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
These grants will help BPI fund the development of and clinical trials for software-based programs designed to improve cognitive function in people with schizophrenia and visual attention in people with stroke. This work offers the promise of radically new, non-invasive, safe and effective treatments for these currently untreated medical conditions, which affect millions of people and contribute to billions of dollars of medical costs.
The NIH’s Biomedical Research, Development, and Growth to Spur the Acceleration of New Technologies (BRDG-SPAN) program was created to help innovative technologies that improve human health move from basic research into commercial applications. BPI was awarded a $3 million BRDG-SPAN grant to build a novel cognitive remediation program specifically designed for people with schizophrenia. The goal of this program is to apply proven principles of applied brain plasticity — the science of driving structural, functional, and chemical brain change through scientifically designed brain exercises — to help improve memory, attention and other cognitive functions in people with schizophrenia.
Researchers believe that improving cognitive function is the key to helping people with schizophrenia live more independently, find and maintain employment, and broadly re-integrate into society; and independent clinical trials have already shown significant promise of the technology in schizophrenia. The funds will also be used to run a definitive large-scale clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of the program, and to help BPI seek FDA clearance for the program as a medical device.
BPI was also awarded $650,000 as part of NIH’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to develop exercises and run clinical studies on a novel software-based program for the treatment for hemi-spatial neglect. Hemi-spatial neglect is a devastating consequence of certain kinds of strokes that can lead to an inability in patients to notice or interact with half of their visual world, frequently leading to significant long-term disability.
BPI is basing both programs on proven technology originally developed at San Francisco-based Posit Science as well as academic institutions and now licensed to BPI for application to clinical conditions. Posit Science continues to apply this core technology to develop new training programs that improve cognitive function in healthy individuals seeking to stay sharp and perform at their best.
“We’re honored that the NIH shares our enthusiasm for the data collected to date showing the promise of this approach in schizophrenia and stroke, and the further clinical advancements that are possible with this work,” said Dr. Henry Mahncke, Chief Operating Officer at BPI. “Posit Science has proven that the right type of cognitive exercises are capable of improving cognitive function in normally aging individuals. At BPI, we are now taking this core technology and applying it to people with medically significant cognitive impairments that are currently not treatable with conventional approaches. These NIH awards lay the foundation for the next decade of progress in this new therapeutic approach.”
About The BRDG-SPAN Program
This Biomedical Research, Development and Growth to Spur the Acceleration of New Technologies (BRDG-SPAN) Pilot Program, or “BRDG-SPAN,” is a new initiative funded by the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program was created by the National Institutes of Health to address the funding gap between promising R&D and the transition to the market by contributing to the critical funding needed by applicants to pursue the appropriate milestones toward commercialization, including later-stage research activities. The program also aims to foster partnerships among a variety of research and development collaborators working toward these aims. For more information about the program, go to www.nlm.nih.gov/ep/brdgspan.html.
About the National Institutes of Health
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), is dedicated to transforming the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) (the Nation’s Medical Research Agency) includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov