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Industry-Univ. Team Assessing Electronic Brain Biomarkers

Brain cell networks

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

7 Sept. 2022. A developer of software analyzing brain signals for neurological disease indicators is engaging medical researchers to help assess the software in real-world settings. VoxNeuro Inc., a five year-old company in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada is partnering with neurologists at Boston University to evaluate the company’s technology for diagnosing concussions and other traumatic brain injuries, as well as Alzheimer’s disease.

VoxNeuro seeks to improve on current brain diagnostics by a deeper analysis of cognitive brain signals, like those captured in electroencephalography or EEGs. EEG tests measure event-related potentials, or ERPs, changes in the voltage of brain signals associated with sensory, motor, or cognitive events. VoxNeuro says its technology provides a more complex and nuanced assessment of cognitive ERPs that serve as indicators of impairment, much like molecular biomarkers.

The company says cognitive ERP analysis works like a conventional EEG, using a number of non-invasive electrodes attached to a person’s skull with a conductive gel to read signals from the brain. Individuals are asked to take a series of neuropsychological tests on a computer that take 30 to 60 minutes to complete. The EEG records cognitive ERPs for analysis against a database to provide cognitive function scores, reflecting abilities in auditory and visual attention, concentration, and memory. These tests, says the company, can be repeated over time to log progress in recovery from traumatic brain injury, or track progression of dementia.

Diagnose brain disease or injury without a research lab

VoxNeuro is collaborating with neurologists at Boston University medical school to evaluate its technology in outpatient settings for assessing mild traumatic brain injuries such as concussions, and dementia. John Connolly, VoxNeuro’s chief scientist, and Kyle Ruiter, the company’s vice-president for clinical and scientific affairs, are working with Boston University neurology professors Andrew Budson and Katherine Turk, both with the university’s Alzheimer’s disease research center. The study team expects to assess VoxNeuro’s platform against current behavioral-based diagnostic methods, for additional insights and benefits to diagnose patients’ neurological conditions and better manage their clinical progress.

“We are excited to test the hypothesis,” says Budson in a VoxNeuro statement released through BusinessWire, “that by combining EEG brainwaves and cognitive testing, clinicians may be able to diagnose correctly who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or a brain injury in a manner that may not require a research laboratory to interpret the data.”

Connolly is a co-founder of VoxNeuro and professor emeritus of neuroscience and biomedical engineering at McMaster University in Hamilton. At McMaster, Connolly co-founded the university’s Centre for Advanced Research in Experimental and Applied Linguistics, or Arieal, an interdisciplinary research lab that studies language acquisition and processing, including cognitive functions and disorders affecting language development.

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