Pain free, drug free

Alumni-founded SPR Therapeutics hopes to cool the opioid epidemic

With the nation in the throes of an opioid crisis, the healthcare industry is looking for new options for people suffering severe pain. Maria Bennett, MS ’98, may have the relief they need. 

She’s the founder and president of SPR Therapeutics, a Cleveland medical device company that has achieved some success fighting pain with electrical stimulation through devices like the Smartpatch,Maria Bennett which Bennett invented. 

In October, the company announced $10 million worth of investments from the U.S. Department of Defense in the form of grants and a contract. The largest award, of $6 million, will support clinical testing of the company’s Peripheral Nerve Stimulation System, comparing it against conventional medical management for people with back pain. 

Last year, SPR became the first company to achieve FDA approval for its nerve stimulation system. A recent study by the Carolinas Pain Institute found that the therapy promises a cheaper and less-invasive treatment option to reduce pain and disability. The authors conclude it could “shift the paradigm” in chronic pain management. 

Since its founding in 2010, SPR Therapeutics has attracted about $30 million in research grants and awards. Bennett, who earned her master’s in biomedical engineering at Case, expects to stay busy. 

Maria Bennett“The management of chronic and post-operative pain continues to be a challenge among U.S. military veterans and the general public,” she said in a statement. 

She added that opioid crisis illuminates the need for drug-free solutions, and that she’s honored the Department of Defense views her company as a worthy investment.