Non-surgical and non-opioid medical device addresses suffering
For those with chronic pain, solutions can seem few and far between. In the midst of the opioid crisis, patients and doctors alike have sought new ways to address symptoms that don’t require potentially harmful medications or invasive surgeries. That’s where Cleveland-based SPR Therapeutics comes in. Their transformative medical device, the SPRINT PNS System gives patients the relief they seek while aiming to become the standard of care for those managing many types of pain.
“SPR Therapeutics is a medical device company that has developed a product that is a non-opioid non-surgical treatment option for pain relief,” said Maria Bennett, president, CEO and founder. “Our focus is to improve the lives of pain sufferers and to be able to offer them a solution that is less invasive and potentially can be prescribed earlier than other pain treatment alternatives.”
The device is a peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) system aptly named SPRINT. A 60-day implant that works by electrically stimulating the patient’s nerves, SPRINT calms overactive pain signals to the brain.
“There are specific peripheral nerves that cause pain like lower back pain or joint pain,” said Bennett. “If you hit your thumb with a hammer, the first thing you would do is start rubbing that thumb and try to calm down the overactivity of the nerves causing the pain. That’s what the SPRINT implant does, it targets the pain signals that provide negative feedback to the brain in an attempt to reset it to a healthy state.”
For Bennett, seeing the transformation in the lives of those with chronic pain isn’t only inspiring, it’s the driving force behind her company mission.
“I remember one of the times that I saw a patient being treated with SPRINT,” said Bennett. “This particular patient had a lower extremity amputation, and the device was being placed to treat the patient’s residual limb pain and their phantom limb pain. The device was turned on and he said, ‘I feel it.’ We said, ‘Well, where do you feel it?’ He said, ‘I feel that where my foot used to be, and it is helping my pain.’ It was very impactful because phantom limb pain is one of the most difficult types of pain to treat.”
In an age where doctors are working to find non-opioid solutions to chronic pain management, SPR Therapeutics’ clinical studies have shown a 70 percent reduction in opioid use from patients with post-amputation pain who were moderate to high-dose users.
“As physicians treat their pain patients and go through different options, we saw that there weren’t many solid alternatives to opioids or invasive procedures,” said Bennett. “Our therapy presents an early option before a patient has to turn to destructive or more invasive ‘last resort’ options.”
In her company’s quest to change the medical device landscape, Bennett and her team have used their spinout roots to establish support in Ohio through Lorain County Community College and JumpStart, both partners of Ohio Third Frontier.
“We’ve had such great support here through state partners and through grants and contracts awarded by the National Institute of Health and the Department of Defense. It’s been such a great validation of our technology, our team and an unmet need in the marketplace,” said Bennet. “The networking opportunities available to us in the med tech space have allowed us to collaborate with scientists and physicians from Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University.”
On the journey from an R&D company to a fully realized med tech commercial organization, Bennett and the SPR Therapeutics team are eagerly looking forward to their growth.
“We are really changing people’s lives. That’s what motivates us here,” said Bennett. “We’re a passionate organization and we constantly remind ourselves that growing and being entrepreneurs is never a straight path. There are a lot of twists and turns. We have to be prepared for that, but I know we have a team that’s empowered and excited about what we’re doing.”