iota Biosciences was established in 2017, building up on the concept of “neural dust” technology invented at the University of California, Berkeley by iota co-founders and co-CEOs Jose Carmena, Ph.D. and Michel Maharbiz, Ph.D.
iota’s “neural dust” consists of a small implantable device (a few mm long) that is powered from an external ultrasound generator. According to iota, their devices can record electrical information, stimulate nerves and communicate with other machines through ultrasound. Iota claims that “neural dust” devices can modulate the information transmitted through nerves, enabling doctors to better treat conditions from arthritis to cardiovascular disease
In 2018 iota completed a $15 million series A funding round aimed at developing a sensing platform. In September 2019, iota entered into a joint R&D agreement with Japanese Astellas Pharma to “design detailed specifications of implantable medical devices and conduct preclinical studies for several diseases with high unmet medical needs.”
Astellas today announced that it would acquire Iota in a deal that includes an initial payment of about $127.5M, covering the equity that Astellas did not acquire in 2018. An additional $176.5M are development-related milestone payments. Iota will be an independent subsidiary under Astellas’ U.S. umbrella.
Eventually, iota hopes to shrink the device to the size of grain of sand that can simultaneously sense neural activity and stimulate nerves to enable highly-targeted closed-loop therapies.
iota Biosciences’ website is at: https://iota.bio/