Currently, barely 3% of the 600,000 Parkinson’s disease patients worldwide have access to Deep Brain Stimulation. This operation, which is very effective in reducing the symptoms of the disease, is expensive, long and quite stressful for the patient. To tackle this situation, Emmanuel Cuny, a neurosurgeon working in the French health system at the Bordeaux University Hospital, and Nejib Zemzemi, a mathematician at the INRIA, set up RebrAIn in 2021. Working together, using an algorithm based on artificial intelligence they developed software-based medical equipment able to predict the areas of the brain that need to be operated upon in patients suffering from tremors. This software is based on a clinical database of patients that have already undergone successful operations.
The predictive tool is at an advanced stage, as it is currently in phase 3 clinical trials. Bordeaux University Hospital – one of the biggest hospitals in France – uses it routinely, as do 27 other centers around the world, from New York to Hong Kong.
“Thanks to RebrAIn, Deep Brain Stimulation is now a quicker and less stressful operation that is less invasive, less expensive and better tolerated (as the patient does not need to be awake during the operation). By simplifying this surgical intervention, we hope to make it accessible to more patients,” Emmanuel Cuny, CEO of RebrAIn.
The neurosurgeon has just to send the patient’s MRI to RebrAIn. The software recognizes 18 notable points on each hemisphere. The mathematical metamodel then predicts the targets and marks them on the MRI. This MRI is sent back to the centers to guide the surgeon during the implantation of the electrode. Over 250 patients have already undergone operations using this medical technology innovation. The operation is carried out under general anesthetic and lasts three hours. “Our aim with RebrAIn is to increase the number of patients eligible for surgery who are effectively operated upon from 3% to 30% by 2033,” Emmanuel Cuny added.
The automation of the software is expected to be completed over the next year. At the same time, the health data registry to further the learning of artificial intelligence is expanding. RebrAIn will start working with Lille University Hospital to retrieve anonymized data from a clinical trial comprising 600 patients in the health care system in France. Moreover, application for CE and FDA regulatory marking is underway. Only 500 operations of this type are performed each year in hospitals in France. In light of the fact that the USA represents 50% of the global medical equipment business, the support offered by the Next French Healthcare program is essential for the Bordeaux-based company. “Business France has identified a number of US centers where we can test our solutions,” explained the RebrAIn CEO. “We have contacted the right people in the right businesses. (…) This program has allowed us to understand the specificities of the North American market, its health care system, financing and regulations and so on, compared with the European market.” For the November 2022 roadshow in New York and Boston, RebrAIn has already set up meetings with insurance companies, manufacturers, neurosurgeons, lawyers and regulatory bodies. The startup aims to open up a subsidiary in the USA by the end of 2023.