This Portable Brain Scanner Aims to Tell You Whether You Have a Concussion

By Aaron Gregg September 26 at 4:32 PM 

Concussions can be tough to diagnose. Figuring out whether a knock to the head significantly harmed a person’s brain usually requires a trip to the hospital and a potentially expensive MRI or CT scan.

BrainScope, a Bethesda-based biotech firm backed by AOL founder Steve Case, is working on a much easier way to do it: a wearable device that uses electrodes to measure electronic activity inside the brain and transmit readings to a reconfigured Android smartphone.

The company crossed a big hurdle when it announced Monday that it has received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to market the device. The FDA action occurred last week.

The company wants to sell the scanner to hospitals and emergency rooms in the United States first, and chief executive Michael Singer said the product could one day expand to places like China and India, where fewer hospitals have MRI machines.

“Wherever you hit your head is where we’re going to want to find the market,” he said.

Two devices by the 35-person company have been approved by regulators, but the firm’s most recent brain scanner will be the first one sold commercially. The Ahead 100, approved in 2014, was an almost identical device that relied on one particular test, which some physicians said was insufficient to diagnose a condition that takes many different forms. A second iteration of the product allowed the device to transmit data to a smartphone.

The technology was developed by E. Roy John and Leslie Prichep, a husband-and-wife team of neuroscientists from New York University.

After Revolution LLC, led by Case and others, decided to fund the company, BrainScope moved its headquarters to Bethesda from St. Louis in 2008. John died soon after the company moved to Bethesda, and Prichep still serves as BrainScope’s chief scientific officer.

The company developed the device by levering assorted government contracts and venture capital. The Defense Department poured $27 million into the project in search of better ways of assessing traumatic brain injury among service members. The company received smaller injections of money from a competition held by the National Football League and General Electric and public funding from the state of Maryland.

Read original article in The Washington Post »