Neuroglee Therapeutics, a digital therapeutics company specializing in neurodegenerative diseases, has announced closing a $10m USD Series A funding round to help advance its Neuroglee Connect remote care platform and virtual clinics. Additionally, the firm has announced it is partnering with researchers from Mayo Clinic to codevelop and advance the platform.
Aniket Singh Rajput, CEO and founder of Neuroglee Therapeutics, spoke with Outsourcing-Pharma about the company’s latest infusion of investment funds, its novel digital therapeutics solutions, and what the developments might mean for patients dealing with Alzheimer’s and other cognitive impairments.
OSP: Could you please tell us a bit about digital therapeutics and virtual care solutions—how has this field evolved in recent years, and can you share any advancements?
ASR: Even before COVID-19, there was significant interest around digital therapeutics as providers and life sciences companies researched and discovered that such therapies are effective in helping patients with or with a companion drug across numerous conditions. This has been particularly true for complex, difficult-to-manage conditions such as mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease where few pharmacotherapies are available for the condition, leaving clinicians to manage symptoms in isolation by trial and error.
Often digital therapeutics include a virtual care component to support efficacy such as remote monitoring, care management, and interventions, delivered by clinicians through video, text, or voice.
The pandemic drastically accelerated research and development of both digital therapeutics and virtual care solutions focused on clinical decision support, as both can be delivered in the comfort of the patient’s home incorporating the personal mobile technologies patients are already familiar with and use regularly. For our specialty, neurodegenerative diseases, there is growing evidence around how cognitive behavioral therapy, which can be delivered digitally, slows the progression of the disease.
The challenge, though, is that not all cognitive-behavioral therapies work the same for every patient and there needs to be a very specific personalized and dynamic care path for an individual. Using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and novel biomarkers can support and accelerate optimal personalized therapy when supported by a virtual care team specialized in neurodegenerative disease.
OSP: Could you please share a short description of Neuroglee Therapeutics, including who your team is, and any of the advancements mentioned in Q1 that your company has achieved?
ASR: Neuroglee Therapeutics offers personalized prescription digital therapeutics that leverage artificial intelligence, machine learning, and novel digital biomarkers with the goal of slowing the progression of neurogenerative diseases, including mild cognitive impairment caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Our digital therapeutic can be used with pharmacological therapy or as a standalone treatment, with a focus on slowing cognitive decline.
The platform employs engaging gamification techniques and cognitive tasks on a smartphone or tablet so that patients’ clinicians can remotely monitor their cognitive function and intervene using personalized cognitive rehabilitation techniques. Neuroglee’s machine-learning algorithms personalize each patient's therapy by automatically adjusting, or titrating, the therapeutic mobile-based activities based on several novel digital biomarkers tied to cognitive function, mood, and behavior.
For example, adjustments will be made to the number and type of tasks and games that are offered, based on the speed of the patient’s finger movements, time to complete games or tasks, and their facial expression identified through the device camera.
The solution also incorporates reminiscence therapy, which uses images from the patient’s past to evoke positive memories and emotions, which have been shown to improve cognitive functioning. The patient’s family caregiver also has an app, where they can monitor the patient’s adherence and even contribute to reminiscence therapy by uploading family photos and videos.
These and other cognitive behavioral therapy techniques can reduce depression and anxiety that are common in patients with Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
We are launching our platform with a focus on mild cognitive impairment, but our product pipeline also includes digital therapies for Parkinson’s disease and stroke. All will be treated using similar digital therapeutic care paths on our personalized cognitive intervention platform that tailors treatment for the individual, who receives support from a specialized virtual care team.
OSP: Please tell us about this funding round, how you anticipate Neuroglee will put the money to work, and what this investment signifies about your company/its capabilities.
ASR: We recently announced our $10m Series A funding round led by Openspace Ventures with participation by EDBI, the latter of which also founded successful digital health start-ups such as Biofourmis, Livongo, Aetion, and Hummingbird Bioscience. The funding will primarily help us further develop our first line of solutions for treating mild cognitive impairment related to difficult-to-treat neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, while also advancing the other digital therapeutics in our pipeline.
At the same time, the funding will help us complete the necessary research, verifications, and documentation for earning a Breakthrough Device designation from the FDA, which we are currently working on.
Another important initiative that this funding will help advance is Neuroglee Connect, which is the virtual specialty care service that we are developing with Mayo Clinic. Lastly, the funding will help with moving Neuroglee’s headquarters from Singapore to Boston and enable us to build and scale our engineering, clinical operations, and commercial teams in one of the largest digital health hubs in the world.
OSP: Could you please share a bit about the Mayo Clinic partnership, how you connected, and how this partnership will fuel the Neuroglee Connect development?
ASR: Neuroglee Connect is a novel clinical care program that will be based on Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Action to Benefit Independence & Thinking (HABIT), a 10-day in-person program to provide patients and their families with state-of-the-art, evidence-based, lifestyle and behavioral treatments for MCI.
Neuroglee Connect will combine the evidence-based HABIT program and Neuroglee’s adaptive learning platform to create personalized, real-time responsiveness and interventions in managing patients in the comfort of their homes. Patients will be supported by round-the-clock health navigators and clinical care teams for near real-time assessment and interventions.
With care expanding outside of the hospital and into the home, this partnership is helping more patients access this program, not just limited to those who live near a Mayo Clinic service area. Our technology and virtual specialty care team make Neuroglee Connect eminently scalable, giving clinicians actionable data and patients access to world-class care, no matter where they are.
OSP: Do you have anything to add—about your company, DTx tech in general, progress in therapies for cognitive impairment, or anything else?
ASR: An important aspect of Neuroglee’s platform is that it is not just for patients and professional clinicians, but also for patients’ families, who are most often the caregivers in the home. A concerning statistic is that 76% of the caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s disease report that their own health has worsened as they have cared for a family member. That is why Neuroglee has a separate caregiver module that helps them manage their family member with a neurodegenerative condition but also offers education, support, and tools for identifying and overcoming the stress, anxiety, and other symptoms that can affect caregivers.