Nēsos launched out of stealth Thursday and is poised to commercialize a new method for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. It raised $16.5 million in funding, led by Mayfield Fund, to continue its clinical trials.
The neuroscience startup was co-founded in 2017 by Konstantinos Alataris, who previously founded and led Nevro (NYSE: NVRO), a company developing pain treatments. Nēsos is creating a wearable earbud and software component that provides a noninvasive, drug-free approach to disease treatment through electric field immunotherapy, dubbed “e-mmunotherapy.”
“The brain tries to modulate the immune response,” Alataris told Crunchbase News. “At the core is the overactive immune response, in this case inflammation. The central processing is in the brain. We are proving we can actually reach the area of the brain to modify the pathway without deep brain surgery.”
Like other autoimmune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis is rooted in chronic inflammation. Existing treatments, often pharmaceuticals, have adverse side effects, including a decreased immunity, he added. Nēsos’s earbud uses the brain’s electrical language to provide a new treatment option without pharmaceutical side effects.
The new funding includes an earlier seed round and will be used mainly for continued clinical trials, Alataris said. The San Francisco-based company recently completed a 30-patient clinical trial where data showed a meaningful reduction in RA disease severity.
“We are running three clinical studies in three indications, one of them rheumatoid arthritis, and we are doing more research to understand the mechanism and to see the exact impact on the brain and electrical fields,” Alataris added. “If we continue to get the same promising data, it will be very exciting.”
In addition to continuing with its trials for RA, Nēsos is researching an earbud with neurological and psychiatry capabilities. It plans to seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval as a medical device.
Ursheet Parikh, Mayfield partner and Nēsos board member, said in an interview that research shows the brain is a unique organ, forming new connections all of the time. While looking around to see where the successes were in the field, he met Alataris.
“The next generation of neurotherapy is emerging,” Parikh said. “We have Elon Musk working on communicating with the brain, as well as Google and GlaxoSmithKline in a joint venture targeting the immune system, same as Nēsos. However, Google’s devices require surgery to implant them. Nesos is positioned, based on clinical data, in the next five years to treat hundreds of millions of patients.”