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Spin-out company launched to deliver wrist device to control Tourette’s

Friday, 06 August 2021

A revolutionary new stimulation treatment for Tourette’s, proven to reduce tics, has moved closer to being available to people as a wearable wrist device with the launch of a new spin-out company.

Neurotherapeutics Solutions Ltd is a new University of Nottingham spin-out that’s been launched to bring to market a wearable neuromodulation device (rhythmic peripheral nerve stimulation), worn like a wristwatch, for use in Tourette Syndrome (TS) and associated co-occurring brain health conditions.

The spin-out company will use research from scientists from the University of Nottingham’s School of Psychology and School of Medicine published last year that used repetitive trains of stimulation to the median nerve (MNS) at the wrist to entrain rhythmic electrical brain activity - known as brain-oscillations - that are associated with the suppression of movements. They found that rhythmic MNS is sufficient to substantially reduce tic frequency and tic intensity, and the urge-to-tic, in individuals with TS.

Funding for Neurotherapeutics Solutions Ltd has been coordinated by Nottingham Technology Ventures with investment by the University of Nottingham along side a number of external investors. This will enable the design and build of 85 programmable wrist-worn peripheral nerve stimulation devices. These devices will be used in a placebo-controlled trial planned for autumn 2021.

TS is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is usually diagnosed between the ages of eight and 12. It causes involuntary sounds and movements called tics. Tics are involuntary, repetitive, stereotyped movements and vocalisations that occur in bouts, typically many times in a single day, and are often preceded by a strong urge-to-tic, referred to as a premonitory urge (PU).

Nineteen people with TS took part in the initial study, which was funded by the charity Tourettes Action and the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre. Participants were observed for random periods, during which they were given MNS delivered to their right wrist, and periods during which they received no stimulation. In all cases the stimulation reduced the frequency of tics, and also the urge-to-tic, and had the most significant effect on those individuals with the most severe tics. Prototype development funding was obtained from the Midlands Innovation Commercialisation of Research Accelerator, Tourettes Action, and the MRC Confidence in Concept scheme.

Professor Stephen Jackson has led this research and said: “Since the research was published last year we have seen a huge amount of interest in our results from people with Tourette Syndrome across the world, who are often desperate to find a way to control their tics, which is why we are delighted to be taking the research to the next stage via the formation of the spin-out and the clinical trial. 

With the additional funding and expertise of the team we hope to have a finished product available within two years.
Professor Stephen Jackson, Faculty of Science

The new Director of Operations of Neurotherapeutics Solutions Ltd is Paul Cable who brings over 30 years’ experience developing and launching medical devices. Paul said: “This is an exciting time for the new company, over the next two years the company will develop two products: an app to allow individuals with tics to track their symptoms, and a wearable wrist device that will, on request, suppress an individual’s urge to tic. The wearable wrist device will help individuals gain control of their tics and in turn will help them fulfil their ambitions and dreams in life. This is an exciting opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives.”

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Stephen Jackson on Stephen.Jackson@nottingham.ac.uk

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The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 103rd out of more than 1,000 institutions globally and 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2022, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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