Beacon Biosignals raises $27m for neurobiomarker platform

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$27 million Series A led by General Catalyst will enable Beacon to scale its EEG neurobiomarker discovery platform.

Beacon Biosignals, a neurotechnology company applying AI to EEG (electroencephalography) has announced an oversubscribed $27m Series A financing led by General Catalyst and with participation from Casdin Capital. Proceeds will be used to scale Beacon’s computational biomarker discovery platform and address the massive unmet need for quantitative clinical trial endpoints, safety tools and computational diagnostics for neurology, psychiatry, and sleep medicine.

Longevity.Technology: Founded in 2019 by MD/PhDs and engineers from Harvard and MIT, Beacon combines artificial intelligence and EEG to unlock precision medicine for conditions affecting the brain. Launched with a vision of a computing platform designed to scale the interrogation of large brainwave datasets with high throughput and capability, Beacon Biosignals holds one of the world’s largest clinical EEG databases. The company couples that data with proprietary machine learning algorithms to identify neurobiomarkers associated with patient sub-types, drug activity and therapeutic efficacy.

EEG is standard of care in the clinical diagnosis and management of many neurologic diseases and sleep disorders, but features of clinical significance are often buried in hours of EEG data. Broader uptake of EEG technology has been further limited by labour-intensive workflows and variability in clinician expert interpretation.

Beacon’s machine learning teams aim to develop high-performing, reliable algorithms that can replicate the adjudicated consensus interpretation of multiple trained epileptologists (neurologists who specialise in caring for people with epilepsy), as well as novel neurobiomarkers (such as quantitative epileptiform spike burden) that exceed human capabilities over many hours or days of recording. Beacon’s platform provides an architectural foundation for robust, data-tailored neurobiomarker pipelines that carry new discoveries from development to targeted deployment into clinical trials and novel therapeutic areas.

“Our current progress has demonstrated that EEG is incredibly information-rich physiologic output reflecting genetic substrate, accumulated exposures and acute neurophysiologic changes, beyond what is captured in MRI, fMRI, CSF analyses or genetic analyses,” said Jacob Donoghue MD, PhD, Co-Founder and CEO of Beacon [1].

“We have already identified novel electrophysiologic signatures functionally linked to primary cognitive endpoints in Alzheimer’s disease. We’re further encouraged by the applications of our platform toward heterogenous psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia and major depressive disorder.”

Donoghue added: “Beacon is dedicated to helping our biopharma partners accelerate novel therapeutics to reach patients with significant unmet need. We are excited to partner with General Catalyst and Casdin Capital to scale our platform to drive new insights for patient stratification, PK/PD, and efficacy endpoints [1].”

The announced Series A financing will enable Beacon to pursue new partnerships with leading pharma and biotech companies and build on existing partnerships with Novartis, Praxis Precision Medicines, Cyclerion Therapeutics, Idorsia and other undisclosed leading biopharma and operational partners.

“The breadth and variety of successes we’ve had working with our pharma partners demonstrates just how critical it is to quantifiably measure the effects novel therapeutics have on the brain,” said Donoghue. “Reliable and replicable quantitative endpoints help drive faster, better-powered trials [1].”

Beacon’s platform is engineered to adapt to any EEG data source and maximise the scientific impact of biopharma partners’ highest-priority clinical trials. In smaller phase 1 trials, application of quantitative physiologic biomarkers enables precise characterisation of dose-related therapeutic neuroactivity, provides mechanistic insights and identifies novel primary or supplementary endpoints. By identifying variance across patient subgroups, these capabilities further inform trial enrollment criteria or help identify target responder populations. Neurobiomarkers can also be used to detect evolving disease to identify patients who are candidates for early intervention. With the announced Series A financing, Beacon will further invest in building out its network of expert neurologists for database curation and AI-augmented safety assessment reporting.

Beacon Biosignals’ Series A financing totals $27m, led by General Catalyst with participation from Casdin Capital, existing seed investors and new angel investors including Andy Beck, CEO of PathAI. This capital brings Beacon Biosignals’ total funding to date to $30 million. As part of the deal, Robin Washington will join Beacon Biosignals’ board of directors. Robin was previously CFO at Gilead and currently holds board seats at Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Salesforce and Honeywell.

“It is now common knowledge that machine learning technologies will impact all corners of healthcare, but Beacon Biosignals is uniquely positioned to rapidly translate scientific and technical advances into clinical benefit for patients,” said Hemant Taneja, Managing Partner of General Catalyst [1].

Robin Washington, Beacon’s incoming board member, added: “We’re excited to partner with Beacon as they build the future of predictive brain health analytics. Beacon’s team has an unparalleled depth of expertise across clinical medicine, neurotechnology, machine learning and engineering. The traction with current partners is a clear signal of the value that Beacon contributes to cutting-edge clinical development programs reaching millions of patients [1].”

[1] https://prn.to/3c0FMBC

Image courtesy of wideonet / shutterstock
Eleanor Garth
Deputy Editor Now a science and medicine journalist, Eleanor worked as a consultant for university spin-out companies and provided research support at Imperial College London and various London hospitals in a former life.

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