Synchron is a technology company that was spun out of the University of Melbourne. The company initially made targeted novel therapies for paralysis due to a range of neurological conditions, and later transitioned to making assistive technologies.
The company is approved for its first-in-human clinical trial of a pioneering minimally invasive brain-computer interface Stentrode technology for the direct thought-control of operating systems and a suite of assistive technology applications for patients with paralysis. The Stentrode technology has achieved widespread international media attention, including an endorsement by then-President Obama subsequently highlighted the potential benefit of the Stentrode technology in a video on Discovery’s Science Channel. When Strenode is combined with their BrainOS product they create a a platform API technology enabling hands-free user control of third-party assistive technologies. Other applications of the platform may include therapies for epilepsy and movement disorders.
Company co-founder and CEO Thomas Oxley a neurointerventionist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, conceived the idea for the Stentrode in 2007. In 2010, Oxley made a cold-call pitch to Colonel Geoffrey Ling at the United States Army with a new concept for a brain-computer interface.
Oxley founded the Australian startup SmartStent in 2012, which was later renamed to Synchron in 2016. In 2016, Oxley co-published a proof-of-concept paper in Nature Biotechnology, demonstrating the potential for a neural recording device to be engineered onto a stent and chronically implanted into a blood vessel in the brain without the need for open brain surgery.
Funding for Synchron’s technology commenced in 2012 and included grants from U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), United States Department of Defense (DoD) and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, among other sources. Oxley’s group in Australia was the only non-US-based funded by DARPA as part of the Reliable Neural Interfaces Technology (RE-NET) program.
In 2017, Series A funding was led by NeuroTechnology Investors, and veteran neurovascular entrepreneur Martin Dieck took on the role of Chairman of the Board. In 2018, Dr. Oxley announced in a TEDxSyndey Talk that the company, Synchron, would initiate clinical trials of the Stentrode device with the goal of assisting paralyzed patients to regain the ability to communicate.
In 2019, a statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., he lent support to the industry, issuing draft guidance to help spur the development of brain-computer interface (BCI) devices.
- Brain-computer interfaceA collection of topics, research organizations, companies and technologies related to brain-computer interface (BCI) systems, also called brain-machine interface (BMI). These devices translate neuronal information into commands that can control software or hardware like computers or robotic devices.