Jesse W Crowne, CEO of Brain Scientific Inc and its subsidiary MemoryMD, has always been captivated by neuroscience.
“The human brain is one of the last areas of the human body that we just don’t fully understand, and we have to examine even more how it really works and what its potential really is,” he said.
After 10 years in private equity and venture capital, Crowne seized the chance to take the helm at Brain Scientific as he was absolutely “enthralled” by the company’s NeuroCap, a disposable electroencephalogram (EEG) headset, as well as its NeuroEEG, a 16-channel portable EEG amplifier, which when used together are able to shed light on the brain’s inner workings.
Proactive Investors sat down with Crowne to track the privately held New York company’s latest undertakings.
Why are the EEG devices Brain Scientific offers different?
If you look at the EEG market, this is a technology that has been around for almost 100 years now, possibly even a little bit longer. And it’s a space where there hasn’t been a whole lot of innovation. The technology hasn’t progressed a whole lot in the last 50 years.
The systems that are in place right now are these big bulky systems in hospitals that require a large computer and a cart to move them around. And because of that, it’s very hard to analyze or create large data sets and analyze that data. And so, it was really clear to us if you could make a few adjustments to the way that this technology is enabled, then you suddenly could create larger databases and you could do greater analysis and you could start using this technology in areas where it’s never been usable before. It’s just never been feasible, because people had stopped innovating.
Can you offer more detail on Brain Scientific’s EEG device?
For us, what we wanted to create was a very small-scale EEG device that is portable and wireless and that you can take anywhere in the world. And with our disposable headset, you can now do an EEG anywhere in the world. The new technology also enables us to start building the database so that we can now do some of the analysis that people have predicted for 20 to 30 years would be possible. It’s just that no one had the right data set or the ability to collect that data to start doing it.
So, we now have a product that enables us to go after much larger markets and diagnostics like early Parkinson’s or early dementia. We can look at concussions. We can evaluate pain. There are so many areas that this opens up that just weren’t possible before because of the footprint of the device.
So, we’re really excited. We have a disposable EEG cap and this cap is rapidly deployable. It doesn’t require an EEG technician to apply the cap. It’s very intuitive to use. Anyone who is trained within a hospital, anyone on the hospital staff can apply this cap at the time that it’s needed. And it’s a disposable cap so you’re eliminating the risk of contamination from reusable leads.
We’re eliminating that risk by making a disposable cap that is something that can be applied and then thrown away. You don’t need to clean it. You don’t need to worry about the time it takes to clean it.
And you don’t have to worry about which staff member is actually cleaning the device. This is something that can be applied very quickly in a sanitary fashion and then disposed. In an ER or an ICU setting, this is exactly what you need.
How did your EEG products come about?
The development occurred before I was involved with the company and our founder Dr Boris Goldstein was looking at how to start building some of these databases that could do analysis on early signs of Alzheimer’s, or dementia. I believe he was experiencing some of this in his family. He recognized that with EEG, he could create the right diagnostic that would help identify these particular patients earlier on in the continuum of care and potentially give them an intervention that alters their therapy or alters their course. As he looked, he found that there was not an EEG system available to go out and start collecting the data that he would need to build the robust analysis. That’s where he came up with the idea. He said I’ll just go out and build the system that I want myself so that I can go out and collect the data and start doing this analysis and build the algorithms that we need. That’s where this product was born.
And once they built the product, they realized very quickly that they needed a clinical-grade product. There are a lot of EEG products that are out on the market, that are consumer-driven, and they don’t offer the same robustness in the data. There are obviously a lot of use cases for commercial EEG and for consumer EEG. In this case Dr Goldstein wanted a very specific clinical-grade type of product. So, they went through the process of getting clearance with the FDA, and that’s how they brought the product to market.
How many people are working at Brain Scientific?
We have an engineering team and a US domestic team, so we have about five people here in the US and some overseas engineering groups as well. Our total is probably around 12 employees.
Can you discuss Brain Scientific’s new partnership with Virginia Tech?
We’re doing a study right now with Virginia Tech and it’s ground-breaking. Virginia Tech Sports Medicine providers needed a portable, reliable, and cost-effective means of obtaining EEG readings. The researchers needed to bring EEG testing to the athlete rather than transporting the athlete to a traditional EEG testing facility.
Within the hectic environment of sports medicine, they needed a technology that could be deployed without EEG technicians and without bulky EEG equipment. As with any research program budget is a factor, so EEG had to be within predefined cost estimates. Most importantly, the EEG solution had to deliver tracings of the same quality and accuracy as traditional, bulkier, more expensive EEG systems.
Dr Gunnar Brolinson, the vice provost for research and discipline chair for sports medicine at VCOM, has research interests in the role of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) in treating soft tissue injuries and somatic dysfunction that accompanies sports injury and concussion. To study this, his group needed a way to obtain EEGs from athletes who sustained a traumatic injury on the field.
By adding the EEG to traditional concussion evaluation measures and biomarker analysis, Dr Brolinson’s group will be able to reliably diagnose concussion and track the subtle, functional brain networking changes that occur after traumatic brain injury and during healing.
The sports medicine physicians there are interested in using EEGs as an additional diagnostic test to diagnose concussions and other traumatic events that occur on the field with Division 1 sports teams within the college network. Before adopting the NeuroCap, they had to transport a patient to the hospital and bring in an EEG technician.
Do you have other partnerships lined up?
We’re working right now to build some trials with other groups. In particular, we’re working with the University of Utah on designing several studies to analyze pain where they are looking at animal subjects and human subjects. Right now, if you go into a hospital, they’ll ask you where’s your pain on a scale of one to ten. And you’ll say I’m a six. We can quantify that kind of measurement with an EEG and say well we’ve just measured and you’re actually at a two or you’re at a nine and it’s surprising you’re able to stand here and talk to us. These are things that could change that subjective analysis and make it more of an objective analysis. So, we intend to start running trials there.
We’re also working with a pediatric group that is developing an autism analysis. This is a total health overview and they want to include EEG in their analysis and essentially as part of their diagnostics. So, they’ve asked us to develop a pediatric cap for this particular study where they will take a number of different data points and they will correlate that with patients who develop autism at a later date. So, this would allow them to track back and find a signal early on to determine whether or not you can do an early analysis of which children will develop autism.
How well are things going?
We started bringing in revenue at the end of 2018. We are doing a revision to the product right now, so we slowed down on the distribution side to make sure we make the right alterations to the product. We intend to start distributing again some time later this year. I expect we’ll have significant revenues by the end of this year.
What are some of the hurdles you must overcome in running Brain Scientific?
The biggest challenge we’re going to face is making sure we have the optimal data set that will entice the physician. Whenever you deal with a medical device, you have to have a robust data set because every single physician is going to say show me the data. The problem for any small company is developing the data that’s required and that meets that level of acceptance for physicians that are going to be using the devices.
We’re going to talk to ICU doctors and neurologists within the hospital system and we’re going to show them that our data isn’t inferior to any of the data sets that are out there and the devices that are out there. You can get the exact same quality of signal and make the same diagnosis. What we need to show them is that we’re safer because we don’t have any risk of cross-contamination and that we are enabling the use of this device in facilities where they currently don’t have access to care.
Getting in the door initially is a big challenge and so is getting physicians excited about using the device and then expanding that user base. But the first piece of the puzzle is getting the data that will convince doctors to start using the device and I think we’ll be able to do that pretty quickly.
Where do you see Brain Scientific in the coming years?
In five years, we will absolutely be profitable. We’ll be selling commercial devices and we’ll have about two to three versions of our device on the market. We will be building the world’s largest database of EEGs and we will be doing artificial intelligence analysis of both a normal population and a diseased population. At that point, we should also be marketing various analytics and diagnostics to healthcare firms and we will also be working with insurance providers and large data and tech companies who have an interest in our data.
--Ellen Kelleher contributed to the report