Jonathan Berent, NextSense - NextSense | LSI Europe '22


Jonathan Berent

Jonathan Berent

Founder & CEO, NextSense
Read Biography
NextSense is a developer of a real-world monitoring solution to obtain insights into brain health. The company's platform collects longitudinal electroencephalogram (EEG) data from biosensing earbuds that can be worn throughout the day and night.


Jonathan Berent  0:00  

All right. Well, good morning, I hope to convince you in the next nine minutes that brain health is one of the most important areas to pay attention to. And I'm going to start by telling you a story that changed my life. So the date was November 18 2019. I was at Google X, the moonshot factory of the alphabet company. And on that particular day, we were talking to a Google executive about a very novel in your brain device we had created for a brain computing interface. And we weren't giving a demo, we're actually debating user privacy in an animated way. Afterwards, I turned to my partner and said, I don't feel very well, he thought he meant the conversation. Actually, I meant physically about that time, my Apple Watch went off, and I had a high heart rate. I did an ECG reading with the class two device, and it actually said I was in atrial fibrillation. hours later that diagnosis was confirmed. And days later, I was cardiovert. That day, I had three realizations that have hardened into convictions. One, I didn't want to work on brain computer interfaces anymore, I wanted to work on something that was more akin to a Holter monitor for the brain. Two, I realized the ear is a unique location to unlock neural health, as opposed to other risk born wearables. And then third, I wanted to democratize and make neural care ubiquitous, for rich and poor, young and old, I wanted to treat the brain as a platform, I want to make something beautiful that didn't remind people of the condition that they had, much like the Apple Watch doesn't remind me and might be useful for other things. That's the story of NextSense. And that's why I want to enable Brain Health for all. Brain Health is in a crisis. And it's very challenging. It's one of the hardest things for science and technology to unravel. And that's why I call it a Gordian knot. You can't take a Gordian knot in untie it, you have to slice it. So what are some of the components? Well, about $800 billion a year are spent in neurologic conditions. And despite large investments, with only a few exceptions, there haven't been major breakthroughs in the last 20 years. You have pharmaceutical companies like Amgen, and Pfizer, moving away from neuroscience. And if you look back in those articles two or three years ago, they say it's fraught with uncertainty, because clinical trials are difficult to do if you don't have access to longitudinal data, you also have epileptologist prescribing drugs without any released data to make that decision. And what's the data that they have? Well, it's a self reported seizure diary, which isn't accurate, as been proven. So this is the challenge. So how do you come across this and actually slice that Gordian knot? Well, if you're able to, you're able to unlock a big market, I don't think anybody expected me to put up small numbers on a slide like this, when you're doing things for MCI and epilepsy and hypersomnolence. But it's not so much the question of the market potential. It's how do you get there? Do you have a mission and a vision that's compelling that's going to attract talent and investors? And do you have a pathway to de risk for your implementation. So that is our our vision is to be the foundation of brain health, we want to establish a new paradigm in neuro care. And we think the ear is a unique pathway to get to a readwrite platform for the brain. And that's why our 10 year vision is to develop a hirable that is both read and write to the brain that is used by over 100 million people in 10 years. Every journey starts with the first step, our first step is building a neural digital twin pipeline. It's really exciting what you can do when you have this pipeline. So let's think about it for a minute. You know, digital twins are taking things in the analog world and converting to digital so you can do transformations on it. So imagine subjects having our sensor as well as a heterogeneous set of sensors to be able to collect this data, and then digitize it. Once you have that information, you need a structured, of course, you need to have that user privacy concerns and you know, be thoughtful about how you're updating your machine learning models. But when you have all that, and you have that in a computational model, you now can do some very interesting things. And again, the purpose is not just you can have this digitized, but how can you visualize it so that new decisions can be made, those decisions might inform a patient to do different behavioral choices, it might inform a clinician, let's take an example of seizures. Imagine that you have this neural set and additional data brought into the digital twin pipeline. And that is now giving information to clinicians for different prescriptions for titration, for seizure medication. One of the complaints of patients is that they're over medicated, but from a physician standpoint, you're just trying to get them seizure free. Imagine with a digital twin pipeline, you could model you might be able to try different medications and see based on the dataset similarities, how they might respond in advance. We're developing biomarkers across a number of neurological disease. And this list shows both the promise and the progress that we've already made. Pharmaceutical companies like Otsuka Takeda UCB have already partnered with us for some of these very biomarkers. They want to accelerate clinical trials. They want To be able to get new endpoints, and they want to do that cost effectively. When it comes to patients, we think that it's very compelling. If you could wear a device and have insights into things like strokes that might be coming, or hypersomnolence, or depression, these are all the things that the research shows that EEG can be a biomarker for those conditions. And we're beyond just the possibility we're actually into progress. So here's our biomarker pipeline, we're focused on epilepsy and sleep, we have studies going on in both of those areas. And really, when you think about what you're going to be able to do with this data, when it's there, you can change things around the titration, you can change things around the actual management, and you can get to predictive values. In fact, one of our largest contracts is doing seizure prediction algorithms that we're very excited about. All of this is based on building on a mountain of data on standing on the shoulders of giants. So NextSense has been around only for a couple years when when we spun out of Google, but we've injected IP from Google Horus, and also a trans cutaneous vagal, nerve stimulating company called Nisos. And that allows us to really accelerate our progress, again, with pharma partnerships, and also our go to market strategy. So think of it in a couple of different ways. You know, for bio AI, think of it as this ability to marry the hardware that we build by necessity. But with the digital twin pipeline is where we're going to scale our value. From a clinician standpoint, think of us as a disease management platform, perhaps like Livongo, where you're able to actually manage your disease better, because you have this longitudinal data, and you can see how you're reacting to various medications and prescriptions. If you think about competitive differentiation, I would give three different aspects that are important. One is the team. We have an amazing team of scientists and engineers and executives that hail from tech companies and med tech companies, places like Google and Apple, and Adobe, and IRhythm, Calla Health. And we've brought this group together, in order to build algorithms, we have a number of novel algorithms that will go into a little bit more detail in a slide. But that is the transformations that allow the digital pipeline its power. And then lastly, we have a rich IP portfolio that's well protected in multiple countries. As you can imagine, Hurrayus and Google spending a lot of efforts in ensuring that the IP is protected. And that now is inside of next sense. The form factor is protected because of the coding. We have a conductive polymer that goes inside the ear that if you see other competitors in the space, it's possible that they're even licensing that technology, because it is so game changing that was developed about 14 years ago. And that's part of the IP that we got from Hurrayus that form factor allows longitudinal that allows you to wear something that is going to look like a pair of air pods and but yet gives you data that typically is done through an entire scalp. Let's talk about why the ear is such a fascinating place and promising place to sense. So Poppy crumb former Chief Science Officer at Dolby says the ear is a USB port to the brain. I love that phrase. And in fact, Poppy is in the audience today, she has joined me here at NEC sense. She's a feature TED speaker, and she's also known for talking about neuro health and digital twins. And recently was actually involved in the over the counter FDA clearance of the hearing aid. And we've kind of combined forces, you know, bringing my business operator experience with her chief science hat and really built a vision that is going to change neural health through the use of a hearable. If you think about some of the things that we've already done. We've clinically validated this data since 2019. We have 1000s of hours of data looking at in year versus the scalp data across seizures and epilepsy. And we'll be moving into new spaces very soon. And I'm almost out of time, I guess I'm almost out of time. And we are leveraging best in class algorithms. And so part of the way that we've done that is we've synchronized our data with the time series data of the clinical system, which is again, one of the challenges to do so that you can get millisecond level precision of Spike waves for seizures, and spindles and K complexes on sleep that allows you to train those algorithms. We have some of the best minds and from research labs from EPFL and UCSD and Berkeley creating those algorithms that again power the neural insights. Just a little bit about our arrays, were team that executes we accomplished our seed milestones ahead of schedule, including pharma partnerships, early revenue, prototypes for universal fit and a multimodal sensing platform. And so now we're raising 15 million to complete our pathway for FDA clearance, also launch our brain health clinical platform yet clinical adoption, and then finish our clinical studies that we have already done. So I I hope that this has encouraged you to talk more to Poppy and myself will be around today and will tell you more about the challenges we've overcome but more importantly the opportunity we have to slice the Gordian knot together of brain health. Thank you very much


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