Hillel's Tech Corner: Using your brain

Jerusalem is increasingly producing some of Israel’s most exciting, impactful, and successful technology companies.

By
February 7, 2019 22:51
4 minute read.
BrainQ logo

BrainQ logo. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Company: BrainQ 
Founded: 2016.
Founders: Dr. Yaron Segal, Yotam Drechsler and Prof. Esty Shohami.
Employees: 14.
Capital raised: $8.8 Million.


When one thinks of Israel as the technology superpower it has become, one often thinks of Tel Aviv, and maybe Herzliya. Haifa might also make an appearance on the list. In reality, Jerusalem has increasingly produced some of Israel’s most exciting, impactful, and successful technology companies. 

BrainQ (brainqtech.com) is one such example. Based in Givat Ram, Jerusalem, BrainQ was co-founded by CTO Dr. Yaron Segal, CEO Yotam Drechsler, and CSO Prof. Esther Shohami. 


Yaron, a geophysicist, spearheaded BrainQ’s mission in a search for a cure for his 17-year-old son, Lear, who suffers from a rare brain syndrome. Yotam is a BCG alumnus, and emeritus Prof. Esther Shohami is a world expert in neuro-trauma research. The BrainQ Team is comprised of a unique, multidisciplinary group of individuals with a vast background in data science and machine learning, as well as neurology and neuroscience. 


If the team sounds impressive, wait till you hear what they built. I went to visit their office a few months back and it felt like a step into the future. 


The company’s achievements have led them to be selected by Google as one of four companies in the world expected to transform healthcare with artificial intelligence (AI). While to me and you, $8.8 million in funding might sound like a significant number, for a company that has accomplished so much and is looking to overcome such a serious challenge, that sum is actually extremely low.


So what does BrainQ do? The team has set out to facilitate human motor recovery following neurological trauma, such as spinal-cord injury, stroke and traumatic brain injury.


Neuro-trauma affects tens of millions of people every year and is a major cause of disability. Survivors often remain permanently disabled and unable to perform activities of daily living. The current golden standard of treatment, physical therapy, is not only tedious, but has limited efficiency, not to mention its resulting tremendous cost on the economy. At BrainQ, they saw an opportunity to do things differently. 


BRAINQ IS developing an AI-based medical device aimed at getting paralyzed patients back on their feet following neuro-trauma.


So how does this incredibly impressive looking device actually work? 


It is a brain-computer interface (BCI) based device that uses AI to translate large-scale data into treatment. 


It observes the characteristics of movement in the brain and applies those same characteristics directly to a patient’s central nervous system (CNS). 


Stemming from advancements in BCI research, and developments in the scientific Hebbian theory, BQ 1.0, the multi-patented, cloud-connected therapeutic device, identifies patient’s own high-resolution spectral patterns from EEG sensor data taken during functional motor tasks. Then, using proprietary machine-learning algorithms, these patterns are translated into a frequency-dependent, low-intensity, non-invasive and personalized electromagnetic treatment (precision medicine) that enhances recovery through facilitating relevant networks in the CNS.


Treatment is administered in 40-minute sessions, given on a twice-daily basis for a period of eight-16 weeks. 


The device has a low bill of materials, is easy to operate with minimal training, and is indication-agnostic.


Additionally, BrainQ leverages the unique data acquisition to offer supporting health management analytics for neurology and rehab departments. This allows informed, data-driven decisions, and it precisely track patients’ recovery in a way compatible with the shift toward value-based care.


How does this company bring its technology to the millions of people who need it? The company is focusing on leasing or selling the device to hospitals and inpatient/outpatient clinics, and is ultimately aiming to create a home device.


The company intends to expand into the treatment of other conditions, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons, depression, autism, epilepsy and cerebral palsy.


BrainQ’s technology is currently in clinical trials. The company has completed a series of pre-clinical trials in spinal cord injury (SCI), stroke, and traumatic brain injury (TBI), all with encouraging results published in peer-reviewed articles. In addition, the company has recently completed its first in-human SCI trial. The company is currently conducting clinical trials in top hospitals in Israel, and is now starting a new study for stroke survivors in Reuth Rehabilitation Hospital in Tel Aviv, and abroad. And the team expects to start clinical trials in SCI in leading US centers in Q3 2019.


BrainQ has already engaged with notified bodies and is working toward FDA pre-submission.


In parallel, the team has developed the world’s largest known BCI database to date, with over 100,000 files. It has patents granted in major markets, such as the US and China, and it is collaborating with leading institutes in the US and Europe to further master the mechanism of action.


If BrainQ has its way, which it sure looks like it will, the effects of neuro-trauma and the disabilities that accompany it will finally meet its worthy rival. This company, from its humble offices in Givat Ram in Jerusalem, has all the ingredients to fundamentally change the world of neuroscience and thereby impact millions of lives across the globe.

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