DiagnaMed Holdings to Commercialize Virtual Reality Tech That Diagnoses Neurologic Disorders

VR glasses give seniors an immersive experience
Credit: mikkelwilliam/Getty Images

Digital diagnostics company DiagnaMed Holdings announced today that it has entered into the exclusive worldwide license agreement with Tech Transfer Corporation of the University of Kansas to develop and commercialize a novel virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) neurodiagnostic system for assessment, diagnostics and Monitoring of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.

The system, called VR/AI Neuro, was developed by Kansas University Medical Center, Osaka University and Augusta University in recent years and is designed for use in clinical settings with telemedicine applications. The technology uses VR goggles with an infrared camera embedded in the lens and emulates a real-world environment and common daily tasks to measure a patient’s ability to fixate on a point, smoothly track an object, or perform saccades (rapid eye movements) between two points). By measuring eye movements related to these tasks, VR/AI Neuro’s technology is designed to evoke the eye movements commonly associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as abnormal saccades, square wave twitches and eye tremors.

The research team evaluated the tool with nine patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and seven healthy controls to see how it compares to current clinical diagnostic methods. The researchers then applied eye-tracking algorithms and image enhancements to the eye recordings collected after the assessment and conducted a short follow-up study with two physicians for assessment. Results showed that the VR/AI neurosystem interface was able to evoke five common movement types usable for assessment, physicians were able to confirm three out of four anomalies, and visualizations were rated as potentially useful for diagnosis.

Early and accurate diagnosis remains a challenge for neurodegenerative diseases. Examinations can be time-consuming, patients often have to travel long distances to see doctors in major cities and towns, and misdiagnosis can lead to inappropriate treatment. The hope is that new technologies leveraging AI, which can track and emulate a patient’s daily tasks, can be a new and more accurate tool for diagnosing neurodegenerative diseases.

“We are excited to advance the development of a novel neurodiagnostic system using virtual reality and artificial intelligence that aims to transform the way neurodegenerative diseases are diagnosed and treated,” said Fabio Chianelli, CEO of DiagnaMed. “We are focused on developing and commercializing next-generation digital diagnostic tools for brain health in mental illness and neurological disorders. The VR/AI Neuro system complements our product development programs.”

Other products in DiagnaMed’s brain health portfolio include BrainAGE and BrainTremor for applications in mental health and neurological disorders.

BrainAGE is an EEG-based machine learning technique used to assess whether a person’s brain is aging faster or slower than is typical in healthy individuals. Some people’s brains function as if they are older than their chronological age; other people’s brains function as if they were younger. BrainAGE provides a measure of overall brain health by recognizing the combined effects of physiological, pathological, genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that affect the rate at which a brain ages.

BrainTremor combines smartwatch technology and EEG readings to detect tremors and measure cognitive and brain activity for Parkinson’s disease. It uses an AI algorithm to diagnose and treat diseases, areas of increasing interest to researchers and clinicians.

DiagnaMed’s goal is to complete the development of a prototype BrainAge and BrainTremor for clinical research with a view to commercialization in 2023.