Hillel's Tech corner: Disrupting the migraine business .
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Migraines – if you never had one, co nsider yourself lucky. It is the third most common disease in the world, with a whopping 14.7% of the global population suffering from migraines. Think about that.
Then think about the treatments available and which vary greatly in terms of effectiveness and affordability. Annual costs of migraine treatment in the US alone are a staggering $17 billion.
If you suffer from migraines, you are basically stuck with three options, none of which are ideal.
First, there are common over-the-counter pain relievers. However, many people are unhappy to become dependent on these drugs, or ironically, consume large doses of these medications and actually develop medication-overuse headaches.
There are also stronger prescription medications, but these can be very expensive (some cost hundreds of dollars every month) and can also come with side effects like nausea, extreme fatigue or addiction. Navigating health insurance for many of these medications is another huge headache (pun intended).
Then you have some novel, extremely expensive devices that can be clumsy to use, including some that are applied across your forehead.
Some people even resort to Botox as a migraine treatment.
Enter Theranica, a biomedical technology company founded in 2016 and based in Netanya that is developing advanced “electroceuticals” – devices that treat ailments with electrical impulses – for migraines and other pain disorders. The company aims to assist people suffering from pain that has no physiological cause, also known as idiopathic pain. For instance, if you break your arm, the cause of your pain is clear, but for some instances of pain, the cause is unclear and therefore more difficult to treat.
When most people think of migraines, they think of intense headaches. What they don’t realize is that some migraines include an “aura,” which can involve symptoms like blind spots, numbness, difficulty speaking and more. They can be fully debilitating.
THERANICA’S WEARABLE device, coined “Nerivio,” addresses the symptoms of non-chronic migraines, including both headaches and auras. It is worn on the upper arm (not the head or neck like other devices). It is controlled from your smartphone and used electronic pulses to relieve pain. The device works by stimulating our internal conditioned pain modulation (CPM) mechanism. It activates this mechanism even when it doesn’t go off “naturally,” at the onset of the migraine, to help mitigate the pain.
Last month, following successful clinical trials, Theranica received FDA de novo clearance to market the Nerivio in the US. This FDA classification is unique because this product is categorized as “first of its kind,” highlighting how revolutionary and forward-thinking it is.
This sounds a bit too good to be true, which usually makes me think it is, until I see who backs and supports this company, that is.
The company recently raised $35 million in Series B funding for a total of $41m. The investment was led by the aMoon capital venture firm, alongside Lightspeed Venture Partners, LionBird, Corundum Open Innovation and Takoa. With FDA clearance and investors like that, this company deserves our very close attention.
Theranica also has a partnership with the Japan-based Omron Corporation, which joined the series B as a strategic partner. And just last week, the company launched its subsidiary, Theranica USA, headquartered in Montclair, New Jersey. The new office will focus on launching the Nerivio in the US, where it will be available in limited quantities later this year, with wider distribution beginning in early 2020. The company has said that the device will be priced moderately and affordably.
Theranica currently has 24 employees and is scaling fast.
As for what’s next, Theranica will continue to use its proprietary technology to develop additional solutions to other painful disorders. Fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome are just some of the medical conditions being explored. The company will also continue conducting research and trials to make sure the Nerivio is available for as broad an audience as possible, including children.
As a child, I suffered from migraines, and let me tell you, they were horrible. In case the pain wasn’t bad enough, the nature of migraines is that I was given regular aspirin and told to drink caffeine, which seemed to ease the pain. Clearly, there has to be a better way. Theranica seems to have built it. I just wish Theranica was around when I was a kid.
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