The cost of the technology required to develop medical devices is often “too expensive” for early-stage startups, says Max Hodak, co-founder and CEO of Science. Individual tools can cost between $200,000 and $2 million, and Hodak said companies can easily spend hundreds of millions of dollars building a production line.
The platform, called Science Foundry, allows companies to use and grow Science’s internal infrastructure by providing access to their 80+ tools and services, such as technology. thin film electrodes from the enterprise.
For many startups, the cost is overwhelming, but Hodak hopes Science Foundry can help. “I hope we break down barriers to innovation,” says Hodak. “There’s a bunch of smart people who have a lot of different ideas than we do, and we wanted to allow them.”
This science is part of a growing brain-computer interface, or BCI, industry. BCI is a system that decodes brain signals and converts them into commands for external technologies. Perhaps the most famous name in the space field is Neuralink, thanks to the popularity of its founder Elon Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter.
Hodak co-founded Neuralink and served as company president until he announced his departure in 2021. At Neuralink, Hodak helped develop a BCI system designed to be implanted directly into the brain, but at Science, he’s working on an implant that doesn’t touch the brain at all.
Science’s flagship BCI system is the Scientific Eye – a visual prosthetic intended to help patients with two severe forms of blindness restore some visual information to their brain.
The Scientific Eye is based on a thin and flexible micro-LED strip surgically implanted on the retina. The implant controls a group of light-sensitive cells in the optic nerve that science is regulating through a form of optogenetic gene therapy. When a pixel is activated in the network, a cell is activated in the optic nerve, which can be used for nerve conduction and sending vision to the brain. Implant science is powered by special glasses equipped with small sensors and cameras. The LED array translates the images it receives from the glasses and sends them to the optic nerve.
Hodak says the resulting images will be different from what people with healthy eyes are accustomed to — at least in the first iteration of the technology — but will be useful for non-sensitive patients. with light. Eventually, he said, science should be able to reproduce high-resolution color vision. Science has already tested the technology on rabbits, and Hodak says the company eventually hopes to conduct human trials early next year.