The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched the first phase of the Neuromod Prize, a $9.8 million competition to accelerate the development of neuromodulation therapies — targeted treatments that adjust nerve activity to improve organ function.
The competition seeks scientists, engineers, and clinicians to submit novel concepts and clinical development plans to demonstrate solutions for precisely stimulating the peripheral nervous system to treat disease and improve human health. The first phase of the competition will award up to $800,000. NIH plans to launch a second phase awarding up to $4 million, and a third phase awarding up to $5 million, subject to the availability of funds. Details of the requirements and registration for phases 2 and 3 are expected to be announced at a future time. NIH is launching only phase 1 at this time.
The Neuromod Prize is part of the Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC) program from the NIH Common Fund. SPARC has made significant progress elevating neuromodulation as a therapeutic approach, closing fundamental knowledge gaps, and offering tools that enable open science and innovation. With this competition, NIH hopes to bridge the gap between early-stage research and clinical use for solutions capable of independently targeting multiple functions involving the internal organs of the body.
The nervous system plays a role in all bodily functions, so neuromodulation therapies have the potential to treat a variety of health conditions, ranging from gastrointestinal disorders to heart failure, through targeted regulation of the nerves that connect with all parts of the body. Recent innovations in device technology and improved understanding of the interactions between the nervous system and target tissues and organs have led to a breakthrough moment in the field. As decades of research are applied in new ways, innovators are identifying novel neuromodulation approaches that are capable of selectively targeting multiple organs and functions.
Phase 1 participants will submit concept papers describing their proposed therapeutic approaches and their plans for conducting proof-of-concept studies, rationales for therapeutic use, and expectations for clinical impact. Submissions are due April 28, 2022.