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28 November, 2019 - 12:31 By Kate Sweeney

Drug-free pain management startup plans to spin-out from university

Cambridge Bioelectronics, a Cambridge University pre-startup company, has clinched  investment for a business plan which involves developing innovative technology for drug-free pain management.

Cambridge Bioelectronics’ potential was recognised at the 2019 Postdoc Business Plan Competition run by Cambridge Enterprise and the Entrepreneurial Postdocs of Cambridge (EPoC).

University of Cambridge research associate Dr Christopher Proctor plans to spin-out Cambridge Bioelectronics with co-founders Dr Vincenzo Curto and Dr Damiano Barone to develop a novel minimally invasive spinal cord stimulator implant for superior chronic pain management.

Dr Barone is part of the leadership team at the University’s Bioelectronics Laboratory. He is clinical lecturer in neurosurgery at the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine and works together with Professors Manohar Bance and George Malliaras on the development and clinical application of biohybrid neural implants, combining stem-cell derived cells and neural interfaces to restore loss of neurological function. 

Dr Curto earned his PhD from Dublin City University under the supervision of Prof. Dermot Diamond, working on the development wearable microfluidic chemo/bio-sensors for sports applications. 

He was then awarded by the EC a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowships to develop microfluidic cell culture systems coupled with on-line electronics monitoring systems. This work was carried out in the Department of Bioelectronics of the Ecole des Mines de St. Etienne (France). 

As a postdoctoral researcher in Cambridge, he is developing high-density neural probes for speech rehabilitation under the BrainCom FET project.

Following two years as a general scientist at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Dr Proctor earned his Ph.D. in Materials from the University of California, Santa Barbara where he investigated loss mechanisms in organic photovoltaics. He was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from Whitaker International to develop electrophoretic drug delivery devices at the Ecole des Mines de St Etienne and is now continuing this work as a Research Associate at Cambridge.

The Bioelectronics Laboratory is an interdisciplinary group of scientists, engineers and clinicians interested in interfacing electronics with living systems. 

Its aim is to understand the fundamental processes that take place at the abiotic/biotic interface and to develop better tools for healthcare.  At the same time, it applies what it learns from the study of biological systems to design novel electronic devices for information processing.

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS:  Dr Christopher Proctor (right). Image courtesy  – Cambridge Enterprise

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