The BrainMARC Corporation is a company developing an innovative EEG-based technology. BrainMARC’s product is intended for the monitoring of mental activity, levels of attention and concentration, prediction of attacks of migraines, depression, and anxiety, and for the continuous monitoring of care and concentration during rehabilitative treatment. BrainMARC operates in the Alon Medtech Ventures incubator in Yokne’am in the Technological Incubators Program led by Itay Beck and under the Startup Division headed by Anya Eldan.
Dr. Yael Rozen, BrainMARC CEO, is an entrepreneur and director in the field of medical devices, and previously established and managed the unit of knowledge commercialization, clinical trials and research grants at Rambam Medical Center. Dr. Goded Shahaf, responsible for technological development, is a physician, brain researcher, entrepreneur, and co-heads the rehabilitative psychobiology lab at Reut rehabilitation hospital in Tel Aviv.
“The innovation of the technology we have developed is the ability to identify EEG signals from electric brain activity based on a single measuring channel and in short measuring time periods,” explains Dr. Rozen. “We harness these biomarkers, especially the attention-related marker, for the early forecast of deterioration and the prediction of the reaction to treatment in a range of neurological and psychiatric diseases. This technological advancement enables us to make the EEG measuring accessible to home consumers via a mobile telephone and application that we have developed. In practice, a small daily measurement of the brain activity using EEG enables the patients to predict migraine attacks, states of depression, anxiety and attention and concentration disorders, and to prepare for them with preventative means.”
“Clinical studies that we conducted revealed a difference in the electric brain activity measured in reaction to sound stimulus between healthy people and those suffering from neurological related problems and a change in the clinical dynamic of the latter group. With those suffering from migraines, for example, there was an increase in activity approximately 1-2 days before an attack, while with those suffering from depression, a low-level of activity was usually observed. A patient who doesn’t respond to medicinal treatment will show a dynamic of decline in electrical activity, which precedes the accepted clinical evaluation by weeks”, explains Dr. Rozen.
“The technology’s simple implementation allows us to create a product that is appropriate for both clinical and home use, and that provides recommendations for treatment after only a short period of measurement,” she emphasizes. “The significance is that the patients can, using the mobile application, perform a small daily one-minute measurement of brain activity, and to receive an evaluation of the risk of a migraine attack in the next 1-2 days. As yet, the technology does not presume to be therapeutic, although the company is also currently developing a personalized recommendations system for daily behavioral activities, the aim of which is to prevent or reduce the occurrence of migraines, including recommendations regarding nutrition and relaxation activities – meditation, sleep, physical activity, etc.”
“Another option being considered by the company is the integration of a biofeedback component in the product (based on the monitoring of brain activity) that will provide an immediate response for reducing stress (and risk of a migraine if a high-risk situation is identified). The company will soon begin a follow up-trial to develop and implement the recommendations component in preventing migraines, which will be based on a system that learns the user and measures the home users”, Dr. Rozen elaborates.
Program for Continuous Monitoring of Attention and Emotion
“By the same technology, we have also developed a program that enables the continuous monitoring of attention and emotion from electric brain activity via a single measuring channel,” continues Dr. Rozen. “This program was modeled mainly during rehabilitative treatment following a stroke. In a trial conducted at the Reut Medical Center, it was found that use of brain measurements in the guidance of rehabilitative treatment improved the patients’ clinical condition significantly more than regular treatment without the brain measurements.”
“The efficiency of the rehabilitative treatment, especially following a stroke, correlated directly with the patient’s attention recruitment. The damage from a stroke is brain damage that then leads to motor impairment. To recover from the motor impairment, the patient needs to create new ‘routes of operation’ for the damaged movement. The patients must recruit all of their attention to perform an action that prior to the brain damage, was performed automatically with no specific attention”, explains Dr. Rozen.
BrainMARC’s program provides the physician with a glimpse into the patient’s brain and enables him to identify the times during which the patient is attention recruited, and the exercise therefore effective, as well as the times during which the task is too easy or difficult for the patient. In such situations, the physician will attempt to recruit the patient to revert to effective treatment and, should he fail to do so, he will then attempt to alter the exercise level, type of exercise, or even to grant the patient rest. In order to use the tool, the patient wears the EEG device during the treatment. The electric signals are recorded by the computer and processed to the markers relevant to the rehabilitative treatment process. The program guides the physician, via a three- color system, regarding the quality of the exercise with the objective of maximizing the duration of efficient treatment. In the clinical trial that tested whether use of the program indeed improved the clinical result of the treatment session, it was found that in those sessions that made use of the program for guiding the treatment, the patients achieved a significant clinical improvement. The clinical improvement was five times greater than in sessions in which no use was made of the program.
Dr. Rozen mentions that “the Israel Innovation Authority is operating to significantly advance new technologies in innovative fields, that without this support, would not mature, reach the market and achieve significant sales. The innovation authority support is without doubt even more significant for products in the medical field that require expensive animal and human trials beyond the self-financing ability of most entrepreneurs.”
The products developed by BrainMARC are part of the cellular-based area of health (mHealth) that constitutes one of the most significant trends in the digital medicine market. “The estimation is that there is today approximately 165 thousand cellular application programs in the area of health , roughly 20 percent of which are related to monitoring and treatment of diseases”, says Dr. Rozen. “The existing monitoring tools in the world of neuro-psychiatry are of high quality in nature (questionnaires, interviews), but there are nearly no scientific measuring instruments. From this perspective, the development of digital medicine tools for quantitative and objective monitoring constitutes a real revolution.”
“Technologies in the field of digital medicine are contributing to the enhancement of efficiency of the health system, increased accessibility, reduced costs, improved quality and the advancement of personalized healthcare”, emphasizes Dr. Chana Rothmann Scherz, Digital Health Senior Expert at the Israel Innovation Authority. “Patients and consumers can use digital medicine to manage their health better and to track their condition and the actions they are implementing to improve it.”