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Mindstrong: Biomarkers, Digital Phenotyping, Neuropsychological Testing and the Race to Improve Clin

Introduction to Mindstrong Health

Founded by three of the world’s leading authorities in neuroscience, medicine and computer science, Mindstrong Health is redefining behavioral healthcare by redefining how care providers will diagnose and manage brain disorders.

Mindstrong’s technology will – for the first time - give patients and providers a seamless and instantaneous method to objectively and continuously measure mood, cognition, and behavior in the home and work environment, delivering insights not possible with traditional clinical, neuropsychological, and imaging techniques.

Mindstrong builds on one of the founder’s digital biomarker platform developed over years of extensive R&D.

Mindstrong has developed and patented a biomarker panel that measures brain function from interaction patterns captured passively and continuously from human-computer interfaces found in ubiquitous mobile technology.

The Smartphone

Mindstrong’s science begins with the smartphone. With over three billion smartphones globally and more than 75% of American adults owning a smartphone (92% between ages 18 – 29), this powerful mobile computer has become ubiquitous. Digital Phenotyping collects data from the smartphone to provide measures of emotion, cognition, and behavior.

In three rigorous clinical studies with over 200 person-years of data, Mindstrong has used powerful machine learning analytics to show that specific digital features correlate with cognitive function, clinical symptoms, and measures of brain activity.

Digital Phenotyping

Digital phenotyping uses three kinds of signals from a smartphone. Sensors measure activity, location, and social meta-data (e.g. number of messages out vs messages in). Human-computer interactions capture keyboard performance including typing and clicking. Voice and speech data analyzed with natural language processing can yield insights into emotion and cognitive coherence.

Together these signals contribute to the picture of mood, cognition, and behavior we call the digital phenotype.

To identify the digital phenotyping features that could be clinically useful, research volunteers completed extensive neuropsychological testing, clinical assessments of mood and cognition, and, in some cases, neuroimaging with fMRI. The results revealed a set of digital biomarkers from human-computer interaction (keyboard performance) that correlate highly with select cognitive measures and brain connectivity.

While single markers correlated highly with cognitive and neural features, combining markers yielded even higher correlations. In one study with 100 patients with depression, combining biomarkers yielded high correlations with the PHQ-9, a gold standard measure of depression.

Mindstrong biomarker platform was used by the National Institutes of Health grant UH2HL132368 “Engaging self-regulation targets to understand the mechanisms of behavior change and improve mood and weight outcomes”

Improving Clinical Outcomes

These initial studies demonstrate the feasibility of using digital phenotyping to collect data over a full year in research volunteers. Will this approach improve outcomes in clinical practice? Our current studies address this question for people with serious mental illness.

Mindstrong’s scientific challenge is to go beyond predicting current measures to develop novel objective measures that can predict relevant outcomes and yield precise diagnostic information – the scientific basis of predictive medicine and precision medicine.

Mindstrong Health is participating in several trials selected to test the value of digital phenotyping in clinical populations.

1) Clinical Trial for Depression - Stanford University (funded by NIH)

2) Clinical Trial for PTSD - University of North Carolina (funded by NIH)

3) Clinical Trial for Serious Mental Illness - Humana Health

The Future

At any given moment, roughly one in seven of the world’s 7.5 Billion people is struggling with mental illness.

"All modern medicine is based on objective measurement, yet tracking mental health has been limited to subjective reports in a clinical environment," said Dr. Paul Dagum, founder and CEO of Mindstrong Health. "To improve outcomes for people with mental disorders, we need the kind of objective measures we have for other chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Mindstrong's technology delivers continuous, objective measures of behavior and cognition at a level of resolution and insight that has never been possible."

In June 2017 Mindstrong announced a $14 Million round of Series-A funding. Led by Foresite Capital and ARCH Venture Partners, the round included participation from Optum Ventures, Berggruen Holdings and the One Mind Brain Health Impact Fund. The investment will be used to build Mindstrong's elite technology and clinical operations team to support large-scale research and development.

"What excites me about Mindstrong is the transformation of an individual's patterns of typing or scrolling on a smartphone into precise measures of cognitive function," said Dr. Tom Insel, co-founder and President of Mindstrong Health. "This new, powerful approach to assessment serves as the foundation for developing better interventions to improve mental health care. Mental disorders are global health problems. With smartphones we have a potential global solution."

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