New Brain Technology to Assist ALS Patients Will Launch Clinical Trials in Philadelphia

Oct 17, 2013, 14:15 ET from Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah

Announcement follows Congressman Fattah's meeting with NeuroVigil CEO, Dr. Philip Low

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new technology that will enable patients suffering from ALS —commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease—to communicate via brain monitor, will hold its first clinical trials in Philadelphia. Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA-02) was on hand for the announcement, made Tuesday at the BrainTech Israel conference in Tel Aviv. 

The announcement came days after Fattah and Dr. Philip Low, who patented the device, met in Fattah's Capitol Hill office to discuss future opportunities to partner around neuroscience, and encourage investment in brain technology in the United States, particularly in Fattah's Pennsylvania district.

Hours prior to his Tuesday speech, Dr. Low, founder and CEO of NeuroVigil, a San Diego-based company, filed a patent for the new brain monitor—the world's smallest yet. Low then presented early evidence of the brain monitor's success to the nearly 700 assembled investors, scientists, researchers, and patients. Conference attendees watched on video as an ALS patient (the first ever to do so) spelled his first word without using his body, by using non-invasive, single-channel, mind-enabled communication. Low has developed other technologies using the monitor to test on patients in various stages of ALS.

Fattah who spoke earlier in the conference, praised Dr. Low's breakthrough research and his commitment to the millions of patients in America, and worldwide, that suffer from brain diseases and disorders.

"Dr. Low is doing truly remarkable work within the neuroscience field and I am thrilled we could partner to bring this future round of clinical trials to Philadelphia," Fattah said. "Not only do we have teams of first-rate researchers, doctors, and scientists in our district, but we have one of the most dedicated ALS Association chapters and the ALS Hope Foundation, right here in Philadelphia."

In the United States, approximately 5,600 individuals are diagnosed with ALS each year. Some estimate that as many as 30,000 Americans may have the disease at any given time.

"We are starting an entire ALS center at NASA to work with people who have pathologies. We are going to continue the clinical trial in Philadelphia. We are delighted to work with Congressman Fattah and the President [Obama] on the BRAIN initiative," Dr. Low said in his remarks. "And we're working to create a neurotechnology cluster that will enable us to work together—whether we're in the U.S. or Israel, or anywhere else in the world."

The satellite research laboratory will operate from NASA's Research Park in Mountain View, CA, and will allow Dr. Low to continue developing the assistive technologies before starting trials for the new technology. Low, who created the iBrain—a portable neural device that monitors and diagnoses brain conditions—previously held clinical trials for his research at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

As the lead Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies—which includes funding oversight for NASA—Congressman Fattah has elevated neuroscience research as a national priority.

He is also architect of the Fattah Neuroscience Initiative (FNI), created with support from the White House. FNI is an innovative, non-incremental policy initiative seeking to achieve groundbreaking progress in understanding the human brain through a collaborative research approach.

SOURCE Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah