Koch Disruptive Technologies is leading a $25 million Series A funding round in NeuraLight, an AI-driven company developing objective and sensitive biomarkers for neurological disorders, including ALS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. The technology’s critical component: a webcam or smartphone camera.
HOW IT WORKS: NeuraLight applies modern image analysis techniques to diagnose and track neurological disorders – which can often be difficult to catch at an early stage – by monitoring and measuring eye movements from facial videos captured with a standard webcam or smartphone.
“You can’t develop drugs for diseases you can’t measure,” NeuraLight CEO Micha Breakstone told TechCrunch, adding that NeuraLight’s techniques are as accurate, “if not more, than a professional gaze tracker that costs tens of thousands of dollars,” he says.
WHY IT MATTERS: Neurological disorders are the world’s leading cause of disability. Tracking eye movement has long been a key part of monitoring these disorders – but until now, there has not been a reliable way to measure the progress of diseases.
Neurological evaluation is highly subjective, with a 25%-30% variability depending on who’s measuring. There is up to a 30% chance of misdiagnosis for diseases such as Parkinson’s. The lack of data has resulted in just a 6% approval rate for neurological therapeutics, less than half the approval rate for non-neurological drugs.
Digital markers extracted from video with NeuraLight’s technology can provide an accurate snapshot of a person’s neurological status, enabling pharmaceutical companies to develop better products that reduce misdiagnosis and accurately and sensitively measure disease progression.
The goal is to “establish a novel standard for neurological disorders, for progression, monitoring and diagnosis, but to start with pharma as a decision-making tool,” Micha told TechCrunch. “We’re on an urgent mission to make a real impact — this isn’t academic.”
WHY KOCH INVESTED: The funding round will support NeuraLight as it works to improve the design of neurological clinical trials and help advance new treatments.
“NeuraLight's precise friction-reducing breakthrough to create digital biomarkers can transform the field of neurology – from early detection to drug discovery,” said Eli Groner, managing director at Koch Disruptive Technologies. “We are very excited about the implications for humanity.”
GO DEEPER: Koch Industries has recently invested more than $3 billion in health care tech, with KDT’s investment in NeuraLight the latest example of a continued focus on improving health care outcomes.
Read about the other health care-focused investments in KDT’s portfolio here, and follow NeuraLight’s latest developments on LinkedIn and Twitter.