NeuroVigil launches portable device to measure brain electrical activity

Launch of iBrain monitor will target Parkinson's patients in 2nd phase

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by Andrea Lobo |

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A human brain is shown with lightning bolts shooting from its base.

NeuroVigil has launched its iBrain personal brain monitor — an investigational portable device that can noninvasively record the brain’s electrical activity in people with neurological conditions — in the U.S., according to a company press release.

In the second phase of the launch, NeuroVigil will use a smaller version of the device specifically to detect signs of Parkinson’s disease.

iBrain is based on electroencephalogram (EEG) technology, commonly used to measure brain electrical activity and identify evidence of neurological changes. The device can be used by patients at home, and during sleep, to allow more efficient and user-friendly EEG data collection, according to NeuroVigil.

“Our mission is to create a universe where billions of people will be able to noninvasively access, communicate and leverage their brain state in real time,” said Philip Low, PhD, NeuroVigil’s founder, chairman, CEO, and chief technology officer.

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Device can noninvasively record brain electrical activity in real time

The iBrain device is composed of a miniature electronic box attached to a light and flexible head harness and electrodes, which can be easily applied to a patient’s head during sleep. It also contains a rechargeable battery that allows continuous recording for hours, as well as a USB port for data transfer and battery charge to a computer.

Obtained data can be rapidly quantified, analyzed, and classified using the Sleep Parametric EEG Automated Recognition System (SPEARS) algorithm, creating a map of the patient’s brain activity without the need for manual analysis, according to NeuroVigil.

The automated analysis also increases the amount of information obtained from EEG data. NeuroVigil says that data can be useful in the early detection and diagnosis of neurological conditions like Parkinson’s, as well as Alzheimer’s disease and sleep-related medical conditions.

According to the company, the device is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which establishes U.S. standards for the protection of certain health information-sensitive patient data protection.

In the first launch phase, iBrain will search for EEG biomarkers of sleep apnea, aneurysms, and drug side effects in asymptomatic individuals. This process will occur under a partnership with Roche and Novartis. Apnea is the temporary suspension of breathing during sleep, while an aneurysm is an abnormal swelling in the wall of blood vessels.

Then, in a second phase, a smaller version of iBrain will be used to look for signs of Parkinson’s disease or brain tumors.

NeuroVigil said the device was launched in four U.S. states but did not provide any information specifying which ones.

The project was started in 2011 at the request of Stephen Hawking, NeuroVigil’s adviser at the time, to enable people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) to be able to communicate using their minds.

The technology was tested in a 2012 clinical trial, in collaboration with Terry Heiman-Patterson, MD, a professor of neurology at Temple University, and in 2013, Augie Nieto became the first ALS patient to spell the word “communicate” using an iBrain device.  iBrain was granted a patent by the U.S. Patent Office.

In its announcement, the company also stated that it has raised more than $85 million in stock sales, for a total of $6 billion in Series B funding, which included 27 strategic investors to support the development of the noninvasive brain technology.