Munich, May 2023
Viewmind–a digital health and artificial intelligence company from Luxembourg, presented their solution: Digital Biomarkers for Neurodegenerative Diseases Management and won 1st place of the 14th Healthcare Innovation World Cup® at the MEDICA.
To learn more about the Viewmind team’s innovative idea, lets have conversation with them.
- INTRODUCE YOURSELF – HOW DID IT ALL START?
Brain health is the foundation of human health. Yet despite its importance, it has received less attention and research funding than other therapeutic areas in recent decades. The discovery of early biomarkers for cardiovascular health and cancer detection have led to significant investments and advances in treatment. The culminating result of this support is that today an early diagnosis of diseases in these areas can help prevent many of the negative outcomes of the past. With more resources dedicated to neurological diseases and disorders, the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia—as well as other diseases to which brain health is linked—might likewise be arrested.
Brain diseases are on the rise:
- 55 million people across the globe suffer from dementia
- This number is expected to reach 139 million by 2050
- One of every three people who live to be 85 or older will develop Alzheimer’s disease
- In 2022, the cost of treating and caring for Alzheimer’s patients reached $1.5 trillion in the United States alone
- Long COVID may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease
ViewMind’s mission is to extend the longevity of brain health through digital biomarkers that can reveal signs of cognitive decline earlier and more clearly than ever before. ViewMind’s 15-minute assessment, which tracks eye movement in response to a series of visual stimuli from a VR headset, is affordable, noninvasive, and scalable in nearly any environment.
ViewMind’s journey began in 2003 with the research of Dr. Gerardo Fernandez, who studied neuroscience, brain activation, the relationship between eye movements and artificial intelligence as a postdoc in Argentina, Germany and the United Kingdom. ViewMind was formed in 2018 to productize the technology and build on clinical validation studies with a view toward applying for regulatory clearance with the addition of Matias Shulz. Mark Edwards joined the team in 2019 to structure the company for commercial success, developing a go-to-market strategy and securing funding.
By now the meaning behind the name should be self-evident. ViewMind accesses brain health by activating different brain regions with a visual stimulus, digitizing eye movement responses and interpreting the data using neuroscience expertise and intelligent algorithms that can associate phenotypical responses with levels of brain preservation. The eye thus becomes the window to the brain, a way to view the mind.
The resulting insights provide a precise picture of neurocognitive function in different regions of the brain and cognitive domains. The results have been validated with and correlate to other important brain assessment diagnostics such as cerebral spinal fluid analysis (CSF), positron emission tomography (PET) biomarker diagnostics tests, neuroimaging MRI and fMRI scans and volumetric analysis, electroencephalogram EEG and even motor function tests. Because these tests can be expensive and invasive, they are typically ordered and reimbursed only in the later stages of a pathology, when damage is frequently already irreversible.
- WHAT ARE THE KEY MILESTONES YOU HAVE REACHED SO FAR?
ViewMind has raised seed financing and also non-dilutive funding from several grants. Most recently, ViewMind was awarded a public private partnership grant (PPP) from the Luxembourg Ministry of Economy for 1.36M euro in partnership with the Luxembourg Ministry of Health.
ViewMind has operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with headquarters in Luxembourg, North America (New York), and South and Central America (Argentina). ViewMind also has deployments in Southeast Asia.
The ViewMind team has grown significantly to include personnel in development, medical affairs, regulatory, reimbursement, development, product management, operations, and project management, as well as general administration and finance.
ViewMind launched its digital health solution in collaboration with various partners, including Hewlett Packard, which provides all of the on-premise hardware, VR headsets and computers. ViewMind also partners with AWS for cloud services, Microsoft and NVIDIA.
- WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED?
The medical sector cares for patients, but it also operates as a business, whether it is funded by a public or private insurance. Every country has a different system with nuances that need to be considered.
It is important to consider how your customer in the medical world will get reimbursed for your solution. You can have a great product, but if the institutions you are trying to offer your solution to aren’t aligned economically and won’t get reimbursed, you’re facing an uphill battle.
I would encourage any medtech / digital health company to consider reimbursement potential upfront, even before the product is designed or completed.
- WHAT IS COMING IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
The future looks exciting and busy! In the immediate future, ViewMind’s technology can significantly impact therapeutic development efforts. Pharmaceutical companies have about a 6% success rate in taking neurologic therapeutics from clinical trials to regulatory clearance. This is half the average across all therapeutics. Alzheimer’s therapeutics have an even more challenging journey, with only a 0.1% success rate.
A significant proportion of the challenge can be attributed to the lack of cost-effective, non-invasive tools to provide a complete picture of brain health. ViewMind addresses these challenges and can improve patient recruitment and pre-screening for biomarkers. ViewMind also provides the ability to measure the impact of therapeutics in short time frames, not only because it correlates with biomarkers, but also because it can detect and assess the functional impact of such subtle changes. The high sensitivity and precision of these assessments will likely make it possible to end certain studies more quickly, thereby conserving resources for other studies.
Currently, ViewMind is working with pharmaceutical companies in clinical studies related to Alzheimer’s, MCI, multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders.
In the medium term, ViewMind will be used by physicians to access precision data from which to make evidence-based decisions about a patient’s treatment. ViewMind has recently presented results that show a much greater sensitivity to multiple sclerosis markers as measured by the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS). This capability has the potential to offer physicians greater insight into subclinical progression and treatment impact, as well as enabling them to better time treatment escalation based on the progression of the disease and individualized patient response.
The technology is scalable and easy to use. In some markets, it is already being used for early screening in primary care. In the long run, ViewMind sees its product being used as part of an annual screening from the age of 55 or in at-risk populations to catch neurological abnormalities early.
- DESCRIBE YOUR EXPIRIENCE IN THE INNOVATION WORLD CUP®
The 14th Healthcare Innovation World Cup was a professionally run, well-attended event on the largest global medical stage at Medica, with 5,500 exhibitors and 120K attendees. The standard of all the competitors was high, and just getting to the final 12 out of 300 applicants was a great opportunity for us to tell ViewMind’s story and raise our profile in health care. Coming in first was a great honour for the entire ViewMind team and partner ecosystem, as well as a recognition of the responsibility we carry to benefit millions of people through improved brain health diagnosis and care.
- YOUR THREE TIPS FOR UP-COMING START-UPS
You have a very limited time to tell your story, so you need to really consider the most important points you will be able to get across in three minutes. Focus on what makes your solution different and worthy of recognition.
THANK YOU FOR THE INTERESTING INSIGHTS, AND WE SHALL KEEP WATCHING YOUR NEXT BIG STEPS!
Visit Viewmind and get more insights on their clinically validated solutions for precision diagnostics of neurocognitive disorders.
Submit your solution and join us at the 15th Healthcare Innovation World Cup. The next generation of smart health devices, medical wearables, digital biomarkers, electroceuticals, intelligent patches, and more. HealthTech and MedTech innovators worldwide are invited to take part in free of charge and take your chance to disrupt the 10th MEDICA CONNECTED HEALTHCARE FORUM