Artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare represents technologies that enable machines and algorithms to make sense, comprehend, and learn from complex data. In the field of neurodisorders, which are typically chronic states, the analysis of data can transform healthcare by helping healthcare professionals make better decisions, diagnose better, and provide more personalized, and therefore more effective treatment.
BrainQ’s mission is to lift paralyzed victims of neurodisorders such as stroke and spinal cord injury ‘back on their feet’ using advanced AI tools. Neurodisorders affect hundreds of millions of people every year and are a major cause of disability. Stroke, one of BrainQ’s leading indications, is the world’s #1 cause of disability with approximately one-third of its survivors remaining permanently disabled, unable to perform standard daily activities.
BrainQ’s Brain Computer Interface (BCI)-based device uses AI to observe the characteristics of selected functional motor movements in the brain and apply those same characteristics directly to a patient’s Central Nervous System (CNS). The company’s digital therapeutics device, BQ 1.0, uses Electroencephalography (EEG) data from a patient performing motoric tasks to identify their high-resolution spectral patterns. Using proprietary machine learning (ML) algorithms, these patterns are then translated into a frequency-dependent, low intensity and non-invasive electromagnetic treatment, which enhances recovery through facilitating relevant networks in the CNS associated with these spectral patterns.
The Foundation of the Company
The company was Co-founded by Dr. Yaron Segal (CTO), Yotam Drechsler (CEO), and Prof. Esther Shohami (CSO). Dr. Yaron Segal, founded BrainQ to search for a cure for his 17-year-old son, Lear, who suffers from a rare brain syndrome. Since its inception, BrainQ has raised $8.8 million in funding and conducted several pre-clinical trials as well as first in human clinical trials, which has shown promising results. Dr. Segal holds a Ph.D. in geophysics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI). Yotam Drechsler is an alumnus of the Boston Consulting Group and has an academic background in math, computer science and cognitive science from HUJI. Professor Emeritus Esther Shohami is a world-renowned expert in neurotrauma.
Harnessing the Power of AI in Precision Medicine
BrainQ is at the frontier of AI-based precision medicine. The company sees growing trend towards using such technologies for unmet problems and is essential for treating the most complex organ – the brain.
More immediately, in the field of neurodisorders, the solutions available do not help enough people. One-third of people who suffer a stroke will be paralyzed and dependent on others to complete basic, daily tasks. The projected cost of stroke alone in the US is $240 billion by 2030. The company believes that BrainQ’s technology will disrupt this pattern of injury and burden and revolutionize the field of neuro-treatment.
Innovation at the Intersection of ML and Neuroscience
The current treatments for neurodisorders in healthcare leave much to be desired. They are either marginally effective or treat only the symptoms, not the core issues underlying the disorder. At BrainQ, the company aims to solve these ‘unsolvable’ issues by approaching treatment of neurotrauma from a data-driven and patient-friendly approach and provide precision medicine-based solutions, and the results to date have been encouraging.
p>In addition to its medical innovation, BrainQ is working at the cutting-edge that intersects machine learning with EEG analysis. BrainQ has created and continues to collect data for its own BCI-based EEG database. Additionally, its proprietary algorithms uncover spectral patterns of brain activity present in EEG spectra and give high-resolution insight that outperforms the current standard.
Driving Growth Through Collaboration
BrainQ is proud to collaborate with world-class experts in both machine learning and neuroscience. The company has worked with Google’s experts, such as Peter Norvig, and other leaders in the field of ML algorithms.
Additionally, the company’s scientific advisory board is composed of top-notch neuroscience scholars, including Prof. Niels Birbamuer, a world leader in brain-computer interfaces, Dr. Nathan Bornstein, who directs the Shaarei Zedek hospital neurology department and serves as Vice President of the World Stroke Organization, and Prof. David Liebskind, Professor of Neurology and Associate Director of the Stroke Center at UCLA.
BrainQ’s current clinical trials are taking place in premier medical institutions both in Israel and abroad. Ongoing communication with professionals in these departments provides the company with additional insight into improving its technology and treatment.
Recognition Worth Striving For
BrainQ has developed one of the world’s largest known BCI database to date, have patents granted in major markets, such as the US and China, and are collaborating with leading institutes in the US and Europe to elucidate the treatment’s mechanism of action. In recognition of its achievements, Google selected BrainQ as one of the only four companies in the world expected to transform healthcare with AI and invited the BrainQ team to participate in an intensive workshop with their experts, known as Launchpad Studio, in San Francisco.
In addition, BrainQ was privileged to participate in the prestigious IBM AlphaZone accelerator program. Recently, the company’s encouraging first-in-human results were presented this year in the 10th World Congress for Neurorehabilitation.
Limitation and Challenges
As with many start-ups in this field, BrainQ faces challenges in medical regulatory processes and the “slow market” of healthcare. However, the company’s biggest and unique challenge, to date, has been obtaining sufficient amounts of labeled data to train its algorithms. Although EEG has been a known and well-used diagnostic tool for decades, much of the available data is of varying quality not suitable for its needs. To overcome this obstacle, BrainQ has undertaken the compilation of its own dataset.
Artificial Intelligence: An Engine for Growth
AI is currently driving a paradigm shift in the healthcare industry. Increasingly, AI is being applied to answer questions in diagnostics and efficiency in medicine, as value-based care becomes a major focus in the field.
AI’s applications in precision medicine – basically, tailoring treatments to each patient with the help of AI – are only beginning to be uncovered. BrainQ is at the forefront of development in what is currently considered niche; the company believes that in a short period this type of treatment will be considered standard.
As the science of machine learning in healthcare evolves, BrainQ expects to see an explosion in data-driven approaches and precision medicine. More frequently, AI will be used to treat, rather than diagnose, medical conditions.
BrainQ’s technology is indication-agnostic. While its current trials are in stroke, brain injury, and spinal cord injury, the company intends to continue expanding its research to a wide range of neurodisorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, depression, etc.