BrainKey – turning brain scans and genetic data into brain health insights

BrainKey are pioneering an approach to brain longevity which quantifies brain health and aligns patients with personal treatment recommendations – a brain longevity data platform.

Following the launch of our new Neurotech report, we are showcasing the dynamic and innovative companies we feel are driving this exciting space – our trailblazers. Over the coming weeks, we will be bringing you extracts from our nine trailblazer profiles; each profile includes a flagship product deep dive which offers a forensic consideration of product development, efficacy, target market, channels to market, success factors, IP and funding.

Here’s the lowdown on BrainKey, and to read the full version of BrainKey’s profile (and much more besides!) in our HTML neurotech report please click here.

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BrainKey’s platform applies AI to brain imaging and genetic data to provide actionable brain health insights.

The team designed BrainKey to be two-sided with a focus on ease of use so that both patients and physicians can understand brain health visually, get treatment recommendations in plain English and monitor changes over time seamlessly. For example, BrainKey’s AI can take a patient’s black and white brain MRI scans and translate them into 3D with 25+ regions that can be tracked over time.

BrainKey has an entrepreneurial team of Stanford PhDs and YCombinator alumni with over 100 neuroscience and AI publications. The team developed BrainKey to be the 1st company to incorporate imaging, genetics, and demographics into a single patient report.

“Many of the technologies that are on the market today are focused on specific data types such as imaging or blood,” says Owen Phillips, PhD, CEO of BrainKey. “It’s my belief that incorporating multiple datatypes is necessary to gain a full picture of the patient because the biology of brain aging is complex and can’t be fully understood with limited data.”

The BrainKey team is designing the platform so that it is well positioned to:

  • Detect dementia 10+ years before symptoms are present
  • Differentially diagnose from 100+ dementia types
  • Recommend personalised treatments from 1000s of combinations of medications and surgical interventions.   

Vision driven by AI

BrainKey’s report and platform are powered by a novel AI system that BrainKey calls “3D AI” which fuses multimodal data to construct a high-dimensional representation of the patient, which is then compared to the larger BrainKey database to pinpoint brain abnormalities.

Although the underlying power of the platform is its AI technology, BrainKey is guided by the ethos that complex medical data must be made easily digestible to both patients and physicians for it to have real-world value.

“At BrainKey, we believe physicians and patients need to be able to pull out their phone and quickly understand – here’s what this data means and most importantly, here’s what we can do to get the best outcome,” says Nathan Strong, PhD, CTO of BrainKey.

Empowering patients

“My own mother has had a version of dementia that should have been identified and treated years ago,” says Phillips. “But it was missed, and her outcome is worse for it. I was frustrated about her struggle for an early and precise diagnosis. But as a neuroscientist who has worked with some of the world’s leading neurologists and neurosurgeons, I’ve seen how tough it is to help patients with limited data. We can do better as a field. But to do so we need more data.

“We created BrainKey with the goal of pooling data from millions of patients to create a powerful new tool that can fundamentally improve how we identify, treat, and manage dementia. It’s a personal mission for me but it’s a global problem as 1 in 3 will experience dementia in their lifetime.”

Founding and partnerships

CEO and Founder of BrainKey, Owen Phillips, PhD, has 50+ publications incorporating, imaging and genetic data with collaborators from top universities all over the world such as Stanford, UC London, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, and the University of Toulouse.

BrainKey emerged as a project of Phillips’ while he was in a deep learning for genomics class as a post-doctoral researcher at Stanford University in 2018. BrainKey got off the ground in 2019 when the world’s top start-up accelerator YCombinator backed them. Phillips subsequently recruited key domain experts such as Stanford AI PhD, Nathan Strong and renowned physicist Kevin Aquino, PhD to help build BrainKey’s infrastructure.

To expand on its competitive advantages, BrainKey has collaborative projects with leading experts on specific subtypes of dementia. These collaborations include projects on dementia subtyping with UCSF and the SF VA, brain aging with UCLA, movement disorder subtypes with the University of Toulouse and autoimmune contributors to aging with Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

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