Funding boost for AI-based epilepsy monitoring

08 September 2020

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University spinout MedTech company, Neuronostics has received funding to develop its BioEP platform, an AI-based system for faster, more accurate diagnosis of epilepsy and to monitor response to treatment with anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs).

BioEP works by creating mathematical models of the brain using short segments of electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings. Computer simulations rapidly reveal the ease with which seizures can emerge and form the basis of the BioEP seizure risk score.

University of Exeter spin-out, Neuronostics is developing BioEP in partnership with the University of Birmingham, where mathematician, Professor John Terry, co-founder of the company, is Director of the Centre for Systems Modelling & Quantitative Biomedicine.

Professor Terry’s research aims to improve diagnosis and treatment for people with epilepsy. He explains: “We build personalised models of the brain using EEG that is routinely collected when seeking to diagnose epilepsy. From these models, the risk of epilepsy can be quickly determined. In contrast, multiple EEG recordings are often required to reach a clinical diagnosis at present. This is expensive, time-consuming, and exposes people with suspected epilepsy to risk.

The funding, from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), will enable the research partnership to progress a prototype clinical platform that can provide a risk score showing the individual’s susceptibility to seizures. This measurement can be used in diagnosis, and as an objective assessment of response to treatment with AEDs, resulting in faster seizure control for people with epilepsy.

The clinical utility of the BioEP seizure risk score has already been demonstrated in a cohort of people with idiopathic generalized epilepsy [H Schmidt et al. A computational biomarker of idiopathic generalized epilepsy from resting state EEG Epilepsia 57: e200-e204 (2016)]. Using just 20 seconds of an EEG recording that would be considered inconclusive in the current clinical pathway, BioEP achieved 72% diagnostic accuracy. This matches the accuracy achieved in the current diagnostic pathway, which typically takes a year, and involves multiple follow-ups [S Smith. EEG in the diagnosis, classification, and management of patients with epilepsy Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 76: ii2-ii7 (2005)].

The company is interested to hear from commercial partners in EEG hardware manufacturing, digital EEG analysis, and companion diagnostics or prognostics, as well as research and clinical partners with interests in epilepsy, traumatic brain injury and dementia. For collaboration enquiries, please email: info@neuronostics.com

The NIHR funding was delivered through the AI in Health & Care Award, part of the NHS AI Lab, which was launched by the UK Government earlier this year to accelerate the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in health and care. A total of £870,000 of government funding has been awarded to support two research projects to further develop the BioEP technology.

The first award, of £720,000, will fund the development of Neuronostics' clinical platform – developing the software that will bring its BioEP technology safely and securely into the clinic. For this project, Neuronostics will work closely with academic and clinical partners at the Universities of Birmingham and Exeter. The second award, of £150,000, will fund the development of a smartphone app, capable of receiving data from a wireless EEG headset. This app will allow people at home, or in remote locations, to record EEGs and generate a BioEP score using their smartphone.

Both of these projects will be developed with people who have lived experience of epilepsy, and the medical teams involved in the support and treatment of the condition. And both projects build on the revolutionary BioEP technology – a biomarker of the susceptibility to seizures in the human brain – which is able to aid clinicians in the diagnosis and treatment of people with suspected epilepsy without needing seizures to be observed.

Dr Rohit Shankar MBE, one of the co-applicants commented: “At present, epilepsy is a condition that is challenging to diagnose and to treat. BioEP is an exciting technology that could rapidly and greatly advance diagnosis and management of seizures to improve overall patient outcomes. My team and I are looking forward to contributing to the clinical validation of this technology.

These awards will help deliver an important milestone for the company and the BioEP technology, moving it closer to the point where it can directly benefit healthcare outcomes. Neuronostics is an excellent example of how the University translates its AI research into real world solutions by investing in entrepreneurial academics and their ideas.”

About Neuronostics

Neuronostics was established in 2018 and is focused on developing clinical decision support tools and at home monitoring devices for people with suspected neurological conditions. Neuronostics is currently Medilink SW Start up of the Year and has been supported by grant funding in excess of £1M. Neuronostics’ first product – BioEP – is a revolutionary, patented, biomarker of the susceptibility to seizures in the human brain, informed by clinical EEG recordings.

About the University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.

About NIHR 

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

•    Funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care

•    Engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research

•    Attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future

•    Invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services

•    Partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health & Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.


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