Israel Grants Owlytics $1.3M to Develop Wearable AI Device to Improve MS Care

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by David Melamed, PhD |

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The Israeli Innovation Authority has awarded Owlytics Healthcare a $1.3-million grant to support the company’s development of wearable artificial intelligence (AI) technology that has the potential to improve multiple sclerosis (MS) therapies and better evaluate treatment efficacy in clinical studies.

The device would be able to continuously monitor health data of MS patients, which would then be analyzed by AI algorithms to personalize treatments for patients and potentially improve outcomes.

“Much of the immune response associated with MS occurs in the early stages of the disease,” Gill Zaphrir, Owlytics CEO and founder, said in a press release. “Aggressive treatment … as early as possible can lower the relapse rate, slow the formation of new lesions, and potentially reduce risk of brain atrophy and disability accumulation.”

Though several disease-modifying therapies for MS are available, these treatments can cause notable health problems, underscoring the importance of selecting the most appropriate therapy for the patient, on an individual basis, the company states.

Choosing the correct therapy involves a number of factors, including duration of the disease, severity of symptoms, effectiveness of previous lines of treatment, other health issues, and overall cost.

To that end, Owlytics will use the new funding to develop a wearable device that can continuously monitor health-related data in MS patients to help them make more informed decisions about treatment.

With the use of AI technology to analyze the data, the device will potentially be able to identify trends in MS progression, and predict the possibility of a relapse in a patient before it actually occurs.

The Owlytics system could also be used during Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials, as the detailed and continuous collection of patient health data has the potential to demonstrate the efficacy of a treatment.

The system could also benefit post-marketing surveillance, the process of monitoring the safety of a treatment following its approval by regulatory agencies.

Owlytics currently markets devices similar in size and style to a wrist watch, which are intended for senior care and neurological care.

These devices are worn on the wrist, and collect data about steps taken, heart rate, calories consumed, and sleep patterns. This data collection is performed independently of a cellphone device.

Using technology built into the device, the information is continuously sent to a cloud-based location without any need for additional components or infrastructure. Data is analyzed via AI algorithms and returned to the patient or caregiver through an application that showcases alerts, reports, and dashboards.

The watch also uses GPS technology to locate a patient, in case of emergency.

The senior care device is designed for fall prevention and detection, whereas the neurological care device monitors the patient’s physiology and motion. The devices are registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Owlytics seeks to improve the quality of patient care, and reduce overall care cost by developing devices that can maximize efficiency and predict potential issues before they occur.

The Israeli Innovation Authority supports companies developing innovative technologies that can address societal issues. Owlytics is headquartered in Israel, and therefore was eligible for the grant.

According to The Israel Multiple Sclerosis Society, approximately 5,000 people in the country have MS.

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