What’s on your mind? ElMindA’s ‘helmet’ knows

FDA approves Israeli start-up’s non-invasive analysis system that can help doctors treat brain deterioration

Former president Shimon Peres checks out ElMindA's technology at the 2013 Presidential Conference in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Courtesy ElMindA)
Former president Shimon Peres checks out ElMindA's technology at the 2013 Presidential Conference in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Courtesy ElMindA)

A helmet-like Israeli brain monitor that works without penetrating the skull has the potential to spot problems early, giving doctors a chance to step in with treatment programs to help patients cope with disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ADHD.

ElMindA received FDA clearance in early August for use of its brain activity monitoring system in assessing brain function in patients. ElMindA’s BNA Analysis System uses sensors that measure and analyze neural activity during specific brain processes, presenting information about brain activity and measuring it against a database of over 7,000 brain functions to see how a patient’s condition stacks up. BNA stands for Brain Network Activation.

“Greater understanding of how our brain processes information, how it gets its job done, ultimately holds the potential to improve brain health and disease management over a person’s lifetime,” said Ronen Gadot, CEO of ElMindA. “BNA adds an objective layer of information to clinical symptom assessments and neurocognitive tests, providing clinicians with a comprehensive view of brain health.”

While most brain monitoring systems require the an invasive insertion of a sensor inside the head, ElMindA’s BNA takes its measurements using a sensor-laden, futuristic-looking “helmet” that contains dozens of electrodes that measure activity through the skull. The sensors are able to measure the electronic activity of the brain at different points, with each sensor recording the activity associated with a specific brain function – thought, memory, activity, and others.

The data is analyzed by specially-developed algorithms based on patented signal processing and pattern recognition techniques that can connect among the signals, revealing three-dimensional images of BNA patterns, or BNAs, which represent high resolution functional neural pathways. The data can aid doctors in the profiling of brain function and changes in functionality, and can assist follow-up of changes in disease progression and/or response to therapeutic interventions.

The system can detect the early stages of degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It can also assist physicians in coming up with more effective treatment plans for brain disorders, like ADHD/ADD.

ElMindA has established a growing database of brain activity from both healthy subjects and patients with brain-related disorders. The database currently includes more than 7,000 of the BNA 3D datasets, covering almost every known brain disorder. The system is being used in dozens of institutions, and ElMindA has collaborated with major medical institutions and universities on a number of important studies. A recent one performed by ElMindA and scientists from the University of Toronto, Canada and from the Ben-Gurion University showed how scopolamine, a muscarinic receptor antagonist compound, was used to induce a reversible cognitive decline in volunteers who had Alzheimer’s-like symptoms.

ElMindA was one of the Israeli technologies that US President Barack Obama was shown when he asked about Israeli technological achievements on his visit to Israel in March 2013, and was a finalist for last year’s million dollar Global B.R.A.I.N. (Breakthrough Research And Innovation in Neurotechnology) Prize.

“BNA allows physicians to assess brain health using objective neurological measurements,” said Jeffrey S. Kutcher, M.D., associate professor of neurology, University of Michigan Medical School. “This will allow those of us caring for patients the ability to more clearly differentiate a healthy brain from one affected by disease or injury, and potentially have more informed discussions about lifestyle, activity, prevention and treatment decisions as a result.”

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