NIH launches competition to accelerate development of neuromodulation therapies

Jan. 26, 2022

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched the first phase of the Neuromod Prize, a $9.8 million competition to accelerate the development of neuromodulation therapies, which are targeted treatments that adjust nerve activity to improve organ function.

The competition seeks scientists, engineers, and clinicians to submit novel concepts and clinical development plans to demonstrate solutions for precisely stimulating the peripheral nervous system to treat disease and improve human health. The first phase of the competition will award up to $800,000. NIH plans to launch a second phase awarding up to $4 million, and a third phase awarding up to $5 million, subject to the availability of funds. Details of the requirements and registration for phases two and three are expected to be announced at a future time. NIH is launching only the first phase at this time.

The Neuromod Prize is part of the Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC) program from the NIH Common Fund.

In explaining the award, the NIH said, “The nervous system plays a role in all bodily functions, so neuromodulation therapies have the potential to treat a variety of health conditions, ranging from gastrointestinal disorders to heart failure, through targeted regulation of the nerves that connect with all parts of the body. Recent innovations in device technology and improved understanding of the interactions between the nervous system and target tissues and organs have led to a breakthrough moment in the field. As decades of research are applied in new ways, innovators are identifying novel neuromodulation approaches that are capable of selectively targeting multiple organs and functions.”

The NIH also said that first-phase participants will be required to submit “concept papers describing their proposed therapeutic approaches and their plans for conducting proof-of-concept studies, rationales for therapeutic use, and expectations for clinical impact “

A judging panel will select up to eight quarter finalists to receive a share of the up to $800,000 first-phase prize pool. NIH subsequently plans to launch a second and a third phase, which will be announced later.

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