The National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) has announced funding for the EyeBoxCNS, a diagnostic device developed to assess brain health through tracking eye movement, and for eFormulations, software enabled therapeutics which combine prescription medicines with customized software apps for brain-related conditions.
EyeBoxCNS, developed by Oculogica Inc. of New York City, and eFormulations, a therapeutic platform by Pear Therapeutics, Inc. of Boston, are the latest technologies to benefit through funding from the Space Medical and Related Technologies Commercialization Program (SMARTCAP), administered by NSBRI’s Industry Forum. SMARTCAP grants are used to partner with the private sector to accelerate the development of products meeting a need in space as well as on Earth.
Research supporting Oculogica, Inc.’s technology will be presented at the 2014 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Annual Meeting, May 4-8, in Orlando, Florida. The first abstract is “Eye Movement Conjugacy While Watching a Video Reveals Greater Vertical than Horizontal Disconjugacy in Human Subjects”. This work describes how normal people’s eyes move together more tightly in the horizontal rather than vertical plane while watching television-like content.
The second abstract is “A Novel Algorithm for Eye Movement Tracking While Watching a Music Video Enables Detection of Cranial Nerve III and VI Palsies.” This abstract describes how eye tracking can detect when people have problems with the third cranial nerve, which rotates the eyeball up and down. Eye tracking can also detect problems with the sixth cranial nerve, which rotates the eye outward. Each of these cranial nerve problems can be detected alone and in combination by tracking eye movements while the affected person watches a music video.
Pear Therapeutics’ patented eFormulation approach combines mobile health apps with supplements, medical foods, and pharmaceuticals, to create more efficacious treatment solutions. eFormulations are simple to use. A software access code on the product packaging provides access to Pear’s health apps. The patient takes the supplement or prescribed medication and simultaneously uses Pear’s games and apps, increasing efficacy, improving side effects, and enhancing compliance. Pear’s eFormulations are the only way to target both brain chemistry and cognitive experience simultaneously, providing an entirely new way to treat brain-related diseases. Pear Therapeutics has four granted and 40 pending patents covering the drug/software interface, creating the opportunity for a multi-product platform.
The NSBRI Industry Forum was established by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), a NASA-funded non-profit research organization, to accelerate the development of products to enhance health care in space and on Earth. In 2011, the NSBRI Industry Forum launched a funding opportunity called the Space Medical and Related Technologies Commercialization Assistance Program (SMARTCAP) for small U.S. companies.
SMARTCAP 2014 offers small U.S. companies the opportunity to receive non-dilutive project funding and to collaborate with NSBRI and its research partners. Companies that receive grants benefit from non-dilutive funding as well as advances made through projects that align Space and Earth applications and the collaborative opportunities offered through the integrated NSBRI Science and Technology Program. NSBRI seeks to support a company’s on-going efforts and existing strategy while facilitating the pursuit of expanded market opportunities via projects that address both space exploration demands and terrestrial market applications. NSBRI will work with successful candidates to develop a project plan that is aligned with both the terrestrial and space applications of the product. SMARTCAP-funding helps companies advance commercialization of a product. Examples of desirable project goals are new applications for existing products, reformulation or refinement of prototypes, or usability testing. The outcomes must address a high priority need in space and improve life on Earth.The program recognizes that small companies must maintain focus on their primary goals, and NSBRI seeks projects that advance those goals while also benefiting the space program.
Matching Funding Requirement
NSBRI seeks to double the impact of its SMARTCAP grants by requiring each grantee to obtain a 100% match of the award amount. This takes advantage of the fact that investment is often easier to obtain with evidence of a commitment for non-dilutive funding. The goal is to advance the project and thus the company more rapidly than would be possible solely from SMARTCAP funding. Both the company and NSBRI will benefit. Matching funding may be cash, in-kind support or a combination thereof.
Elevated pressure on the brain due to exposure to the space environment is believed to cause visual impairments in some astronauts.”EyeBoxCNS can detect weaknesses of the nerves that move the eye. These nerves are very sensitive to changes in pressure on the brain, and thus are revealed by the eye tracking technology we are developing,” says Dr. Uzma Samadani, who together with Robert Ritlop, cofounded Oculogica.
Pear Therapeutics is developing combination therapies for a variety of brain-related disorders including pain, sleep disturbances, depression, and anxiety. A specific prescription medication is paired with an individualized software-based app, that together work in concert.” eFormulations provide the only way to simultaneously impact brain experience as well as brain chemistry. That combination provides an extremely powerful way to treat brain-related disorders, both on Earth and in space,” says Dr. Corey McCann, CEO of Pear Therapeutics.
“EyeboxCNS and eFormulations represent new ways to administer healthcare and we are thrilled to play our part in accelerating the development of these promising technologies for the benefit of space explorers as well as people on Earth,” says Dr. Dorit Donoviel, NSBRI’s Deputy Chief Scientist and Industry Forum Lead. Dr. Donoviel is also an assistant professor within the Baylor College of Medicine Center for Space Medicine and Department of Pharmacology. “SMARTCAP offers grants that help small companies broaden the reach of their products, open new market opportunities, and simultaneously address the significant challenges faced by humans living and working in space.”
Dr. Donoviel oversees the diverse portfolio of science and technology research and development projects at NSBRI that address the challenges faced by humans in space. She also leads the Industry Forum which facilitates the commercialization of NSBRI funded products for Earth-based markets. As NSBRI Industry Forum Lead, Dr. Donoviel has responsibility for facilitating commercial opportunities for existing NSBRI research projects and identifying opportunities to adapt currently available products to improve health care in space.
Dr. Donoviel has developed extensive relationships with industry, academia and government entities who share this mission. She has a particular talent in identifying potential synergies between disparate research programs, making connections that launch investigations forward. Her effectiveness in facilitating research collaborations has earned her the nickname of “The Science Yenta.”
As NSBRI Deputy Chief Scientist, Dr. Donoviel is deeply engaged with the diverse portfolio of science and technology research and development projects at NSBRI that address the challenges faced by humans in space. Prior to joining NSBRI, Dr. Donoviel worked in Pharmaceutical Discovery for 8 years at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company based in Texas. She managed a metabolism research group that identified and validated targets for drug discovery by using in-vivo functional genomics technology, and developed small molecule compounds, antibody, and protein therapeutics against these validated targets.
The Center for Space Medicine was established at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine in 2008. Aligned with Baylor’s mission, CSM is the first academic entity of its kind in the world and brings together faculty, residents, students and staff from multiple departments to contribute cutting-edge advances to science, technology, medicine and education.
CSM is a collaborative enterprise involving multiple Baylor College of Medicine departments and centers, the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, NASA, Rice University, Texas Medical Center institutions, and other academic, industry and government organizations nationally and internationally. The center’s mission is to be a world academic leader in space biomedical research and education and to translate the advances in knowledge and technology to benefit life on Earth.
Located in the BioScience Research Collaborative, CSM faculty, students, fellows and staff work side-by-side with NSBRI, NASA and other colleagues to foster biomedical discovery, advance the field of space medicine and train space biomedical scientists and physicians of the future. CSM solidifies Baylor’s position as an international leader in the space medicine community and as a contributor to the nation’s human space program and medicine of the future.
Established in 1997 through a NASA competition, NSBRI is based at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and is a consortium of leading biomedical institutions including BCM, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Harvard Medical School, The Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Morehouse School of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Rice University, Texas A&M University, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, University of Pennsylvania Health System and University of Washington. NSBRI, a 501(c)(3) organization partnered with NASA, is studying the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight and developing the technologies and countermeasures needed for human space exploration missions. The Institute’s science, technology and education projects take place at approximately 60 institutions across the United States. For more information, visit:
National Space Biomedical Research Institute
Baylor College of Medicine Center for Space Medicine
National Space Biomedical Research Institute
Baylor College of Medicine Center for Space Medicine