Ceribell Inc. amassed $53 million in a series C fundraising round to broaden the footprint for its noninvasive brain monitor in U.S. hospitals and expand indications for its Rapid Response EEG. Longitude Capital and The Rise Fund led the round. Other participants included new investors RA Capital Management, Redmile Group and Red Tree Venture Capital and several existing shareholders also contributed to the Mountain View, Calif.-based company's latest fundraising round.
Ceribell designed the portable Rapid Response EEG platform to enable clinicians to more rapidly determine whether a patient is experiencing non-convulsive seizures. Nurses or other healthcare professionals can set up an electroencephalogram (EEG) using the device in about five minutes. The system includes a single-use EEG patient headband and a pocket-sized, battery-operated EEG recorder, which streams data to a portal accessible by neurologists in real-time.
The bedside recorder translates brain signals into sound, essentially functioning as a “brain stethoscope.” The platform uses an algorithm and machine learning to identify seizures from the signals and sounds an alarm if they continue for more than five minutes. The system enables continuous monitoring of patients, critical for detecting intermittent seizures.
Bringing EEG to the ED
About 25% of patients in intensive care experience seizures and 90% of those are non-convulsive, making them much harder to detect. It’s less clear how many patients who present to an emergency department might benefit from an EEG.
Ceribell CEO Jane Chao noted that between 1 million and 1.5 million patients go to the ED because of seizures and 90% to 99% will not have an EEG performed.
“Another 6 to 7 million have altered mental status,” she told BioWorld. “That could be due to trauma, alcohol, substance abuse, or out of nowhere. Some of those will have non-convulsive seizures. It’s probably a lot more prevalent than we know. Ten years ago most ICU physicians didn’t worry about non-convulsive seizures. Now the top hospitals monitor every ICU patient with EEG, no questions asked.”
Currently, EEG capabilities nationwide are limited by a dearth of EEG technicians, epileptologists and funding, which means many patients may wait hours or even weeks to have an EEG. The quick pace of emergency medicine keeps ED physicians and nurses from being able to use EEGs to make decisions. The portable, easy to set up, and much less expensive Rapid Response EEG could change that, Chao noted.
COVID-19 pushed some hospitals to look for ways to increase EEG access. “A lot of hospitals realized how fragile their EEG systems are. If their one tech has to quarantine, they could lose EEG capability overnight. It’s been a wake-up call,” Chao said.
As a result, even some small county hospitals that would not have the resources to buy an EEG system have purchased Ceribell’s. With an EEG in-house, they can reduce costs associated with transferring patients, sending out for EEGs, and starting empirical seizure treatment for patients who do not need it.
“We do not replace a neurologist’s reading,” Chao said, but “we can make the process three to four times faster.” Faster turnaround can reduce the impact of the national shortage of epileptologists and increase healthcare equity. Many rural areas lack access to specialists, but by triaging patients and making data available remotely for review, Rapid Response EEG could help hospitals outside of urban centers provide EEG services to their patients and physicians, she added.
Expanding product line
In addition to expanding EEG capability to hospitals around the country, Chao plans to use the new money to further grow the company’s infrastructure to expedite development of future products using machine learning and hundreds of thousands of EEGs. In addition to seizures, she said research indicates that EEGs could be useful in detecting stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and even depression. “We’re not going after every single indication, but do see an opportunity to expand EEG to other neurological abnormalities.”
The disruptive potential is part of what attracted some of the new investors. "Through user- and patient-friendly design, AI data analysis, and cloud technology, Ceribell is redefining neurological care and driving positive health care outcomes," said Lucian Iancovici managing director at TPG Growth and The Rise Fund.