Robots can perform brain scans now, thanks to this LA startup

May 8, 2019
neural analytics los angeles
image via neural analytics.

More than 795,000 Americans suffer from strokes every year, with physicians unable to identify the cause in nearly a quarter of those cases. That’s a big problem, because identifying the root cause quickly is critical to treating strokes successfully.

Neural Analytics, an LA-based startup, just raised $22 million to help doctors analyze what’s going on inside a patient’s brain with a semi-autonomous robot that can perform head ultrasounds without a human operator.

It’s not economical to put a doctor and a CT scanner on the sideline of a football game.”

CEO Leo Petrossian said one of the biggest challenges for neurologists in diagnosing and treating strokes today is a lack of access to ultrasound equipment and technicians who know how to use it.

“It’s not just that it’s hard to find qualified technicians,” he said. “In many clinical environments, they’re simply not available.”

Neural Analytics’ technology is currently in use in several treatment centers around the country. But to Petrossian, one of the most impactful potential applications of his company’s technology would be in settings where it’s currently impossible to perform ultrasounds.

Neural Analytics is currently working with the U.S. military to develop a rugged version of its system that can be used on the field in combat zones. Other potential use cases include ambulances, nursing homes, urgent care clinics and athletic events.

“There’s been tremendous amount of interest in brain injuries in athletics,” Petrossian said. “It’s not economical to put a doctor and a CT scanner on the sideline of a football game, but you could imagine putting a robotic ultrasound system there.”

Readings from Neural Analytics’ robot can be interpreted by a physician from afar, and the startup is also researching AI-driven diagnostics algorithms that can detect subtle patterns that are harder for a human to detect.

The startup is also researching new applications for its technology in diagnostics beyond strokes, including brain injuries, elevated intracranial pressure, migraines and dementia. Neural Analytics’ team is also researching applications for PFO, which is a hole in the heart that lets blood leak between the right and left chamber.

Neural Analytics currently has 94 employees. Petrossian said he expects the team to grow in the upcoming year, but declined to share specific growth plans.

Alpha Edison, an early-stage VC firm based in Los Angeles, led Wednesday’s round. According to Petrossian, the funding will primarily be used to bring Neural Analytics’ product to market.

“We spent the better part of seven years developing these products and technologies,” he said. “Now it’s time for us to put them out there.”

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