It’s called Corticale and it’s the new Italian start-up born at the IIT in Genoa that promises to study and treat the brain with a very high precision, overcoming, indeed dribbling, Elon Musk’s Neuralink in the observation of our most mysterious organ. Corticale is the daughter of the research of the team led by Luca Berdondini of Microtechnology for Neuroelectronics of the Italian Institute of Technology and operates in the neuroelectronics sector, the goal of the Italian startup is to provide the tools to ‘listen’ to the brain as never before. . The newborn company, which opened its headquarters in Genoa, started the business thanks to the 2 million euro loan from Giuseppe Santella, a visionary Italian entrepreneur, a top manager with thirty years of experience who is now part of the start-up. as co-founder and president.
The first goal that Corticale aims to achieve is to bring to the market Sinaps technology (Simultaneous Neural Recording Active Pixel Sensor technology) which “provides new opportunities for the study of brain functioning with applications in the diagnostic, therapeutic and pharmacological fields”. Sinaps is a technology that will initially target the top companies in the field of neuroelectronics and research centers worldwide and from Corticale assure that it will be available by the end of 2021. The Institute of Genoa anticipates that later, in the coming years, this technology will be also accessible to the clinical and hospital sector for specific case studies, so as to bring Sinaps to the advantage of as many patients as possible.
Luca Berdondini, head of the Iit Microtechnology for Neuroelectronics team and scientific consultant of Corticale, explains that what the Italian startup is about to realize “is in fact a technological leap forward that changes the cards and opens up new perspectives by offering us a degree of definition. unprecedented mechanisms of communication between nerve cells. A bit like when we went from analog systems to digital or from cathode ray tube screens to ultra-flat and full HD “. Among the objectives to be achieved with the technologies developed by Corticale there are also the diagnosis and therapy of diseases such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
New bio-electronic medical devices for diagnosis and therapies for epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
The startup team is composed, in addition to the financing co-founder Giuseppe Santella as president and CEO, by the three technological co-founding partners: Fabio Boi, robotics engineer and Cto Technological Director, Gian Nicola Angotzi, electronic engineer and Scientific Director Cso, and Luca Berdondini, engineer in microtechnology applied to neuroscience and scientific consultant. The team has already recruited its first collaborators for the development of the production line, the R&D division and for the administration and will offer several job opportunities starting from next year.
From the Iit they let it be known that Corticale expects to reach break-even within the next three years during which it will develop a portfolio of new technologies in the field of neuroscience that will be at the center of instruments for “diagnosis, monitoring and therapy of the near future. exclusive benefit of patients “. The technology developed by the IIT laboratories and now brought to the market by Corticale under the name of Sinaps allows the creation of implantable devices equipped with thousands of neural sensors and as large as a hair.
Corticale experts explain that each device allows recording – ‘hearing’ – the bioelectrical activity of an incredibly large number of neurons in different brain circuits. The flow of brain data captured by these very high resolution devices can be acquired and analyzed and “will offer a completely new access to study the principles of brain functioning and pathologies and new opportunities for the development of bio-electronic medical devices for diagnosis. and the treatment of diseases such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s “.
Human-machine neural interfaces to control electronic or robotic devices such as limb prostheses or exoskeletons
Sinaps will also allow the creation of latest generation human-machine neural interfaces to control electronic or robotic devices such as lower or upper limb prostheses or exoskeletons. “We can think of Sinaps as a new way of observing the functioning of the brain that revolutionizes its study, greatly expanding our understanding of this organ which is still partly to be explored” explain the Corticale experts. Fabio Boi, IIT researcher and Corticale Technological Director, recalls that “in recent years, research in the field of neural interfaces has received great attention, including media, just think of Neuralink, the company founded by Elon Musk who is working precisely in that management even if sometimes with different objectives from ours “.
The Italian startup, indicates Boi, “in fact, will focus exclusively on the clinical applications of these tools with the aim of improving the lives of millions of patients suffering from diseases related to the nervous system”. Boi reports that the Italian team “in the past dealt with Musk’s company, verifying how the neural interfaces developed in Iit were not only state-of-the-art but also gave the possibility of being able to listen to the brain in an extremely refined way. what Neuralink itself does today “.
Matteo Bonfanti, Director of Technology Transfer Iit, finally points out that “Corticale is the third startup born from Iit research in just six months. All three new companies have attracted important capital and skills and have a focus on life sciences: this demonstrates the quality of IIT research in this field “. “With a total of over 8 million euros of private investments in our technologies, we refer to the first six months of 2021 as the ‘golden semester of startups’ and we have no intention of stopping” assures Bonfanti.