Matt Angle, Ph.D., the founder & CEO of Paradromics, Inc., provides an informative overview of the current state of neuroscience and technology as it pertains to people who have sustained a loss of ability due to injury or disease. Angle completed his graduate studies at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, a research institute of the Max Planck Society in Heidelberg, Germany. His post-doctoral work at Stanford University was focused on the design of novel interfaces between nanomaterials and cells, with the intention of developing next-generation electrical recording technologies and products for the field of neuroscience.
Paradromics seeks to advance bidirectional data streaming capabilities that flow between brains and computers. Their complex neural interface technologies are designed to help physically disabled patients reorient and reconnect with the world outside. The Paradromics platform brings together research and clinical applications. Angle discusses his team’s work and describes their primary goal, which is to create a modem for the human brain. He describes how blind, deaf, or paralyzed people have been somewhat cut off from the world, and he explains the motivation that fuels his work at Paradromics as his team pushes to find ways to assist these people to reconnect. He details the basic examples of how their technology could work, such as robotic limbs that move based on brain waves for those who are paralyzed, and cameras that provide visual experiences, or input to the brain, for those who are blind.
The neuroscience expert provides details on brain implants currently in trials that allow up to one hundred electrodes to be implanted into a person’s motor cortex that can give a paralyzed person control of a robotic limb or a mouse on a computer screen, etc. Angle hopes to build a higher data rate version of the current technologies, and increase the advantages that these amazing technologies bring to the lives of those who have sustained injuries and/or losses of function. Angle describes in detail some of their specific technology, and the methods and materials used, such as microwire-based recording techniques. He talks about the impact of the use of microwires, as they are only about one-fifth of the size of a human hair, and thus they can be inserted noninvasively into brain tissue. He states that it comes down to how many neurons can you record and how many neurons can you stimulate. He discusses the value of direct electrical recording and the importance of recording for simplicity of implementation and preservation of safety.
Angle provides his analysis of the importance of the collection of data and how it impacts the simplicity of models that a researcher/designer can use to describe a particular system and build more sophisticated hardware. Angle states that more, and better, data makes an analysis easier, not harder. Finding the simplest models for use in the decoding of brain data will be advantageous for the development of new and innovative products and systems that will enable users to have more control over their world. Angle states that the Paradromics team’s goal is to have a completely implantable device ready to go by the end of the year 2020, with clinical trials beginning as early as 2021. He discusses how their technology may play a part in correcting neural activity to help treat conditions and diseases with electrophysiological signatures such as chronic depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or even schizophrenia.
Angle founded Paradromics in 2015 with a team of skilled engineers and neuroscientists. His company received supplemental early-stage support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is an agency of the United States Department of Defense that develops emerging technologies for use by the military.