In a medical landscape full of precision medicine and detailed diagnoses, neurology is something of an outlier. Given how difficult it is to diagnose nervous system disorders, neurology has proven a very difficult branch of medicine. (Much of the public’s skepticism is understandable: Research suggests that Parkinson’s, for example, is a 25% misdiagnosis.)
A lack of objective testing and the highly subjective nature of available resources leads to inaccurate and delayed diagnosis, resulting in late intervention, reduced patient care and ineffective drug development.
Enter NeuraLight, a VC-backed startup looking to digitize neurological assessment and care. NeuraLight’s AI-powered platform, co-founded by former Chorus.ai president Micha Breakstone, integrates multiple digital markers to accelerate and improve the development, monitoring and precision care of medicines for patients with neurological disorders. The idea is that if you improve the diagnosis process, you can intervene earlier, improving the prognosis, and often, as in the case of relapsing-remitting MS, even changing the course of the disease.
“The unmet need in neurology to establish objective and sensitive biomarkers is immense,” said Thomas Südhof, a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine and a member of NeuraLight’s scientific advisory board. “NeuraLight’s approach is a real promise to meet this need.”
To date, the company has raised more than $30 million from prominent VCs such as Koch Disruptive Technologies, Breyer Capital, Samsung Next, VSC and Operator Partners, as well as from angel investors including Instacart CEO Fidji Simo and and Lily Sarafan, co-founder of TheKey.
NeuraLight’s founders are recurring entrepreneurs (including both the co-founder of Chorus.ai, which sold to ZoomInfo for $575 million, and the founding CTO of Flatiron Health, which sold to Roche for $2 billion) who lead a 30-person team. , supported by renowned neurologists and two Nobel laureates and a great scientific advisory board.
For Breakstone, the company’s mission is not just a business proposition; it’s personal. “After watching two of my grandparents battle with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, I began to study these diseases in depth, and it quickly became apparent to me that treatments for these diseases are extremely difficult to discover because they lack robust objective and sensitive measures,” he says. . “That’s why we founded NeuraLight – to accurately and objectively measure neurological disorders and bring precision medicine to neurology.”
Research spanning decades and published in hundreds of peer-reviewed papers has shown that oculometric markers—that is, biomarkers obtained by measuring micromovements of the eye—can be used to diagnose and monitor the progression of a wide variety of neurological disorders. to predict. NeuraLight uses proprietary Computer Vision and Deep Learning algorithms to simultaneously extract all relevant oculometric markers from facial videos captured with a standard webcam or smartphone.
Serving as a reliable proxy for currently used clinical endpoints, these digital markers will provide an accurate snapshot of a person’s neurological status, enabling pharmaceutical companies to introduce smart phenotyping, reduce misdiagnosis and measure disease progression accurately and sensitively.
NeuraLight recently started a trial in collaboration with the publicly traded pharmaceutical company NeuroSense. The aim of the trial is to determine whether NeuraLight can predict the progression of ALS using their platform. While the official results have not yet been published, Breakstone says an initial analysis of NeuraLight’s measurements is extremely encouraging and in line with the published literature.
“This will be a big step forward for us in establishing oculometry as a sensitive and reliable biomarker for neurological disorders,” Breakstone says.