Red Devil, Jan Vertonghen co-invests in Ghent-based scale-up to expand groundbreaking epilepsy AI technology to sleep and other neurological disorders…
Epilog, a Medtech company providing brain wave analysis services for clinical practice and clinical trials has raised one million euros to market its Epilog Care technology package worldwide. The Ghent scale-up aims to make it easier to detect and treat epilepsy, sleep problems, and other brain conditions with electroencephalogram (EEG) analysis. Jan Vertonghen, Belgian professional footballer playing for the Belgium national team, who lost his father to epilepsy, is one of the new investors.
“This is a very important milestone in Epilog’s growth story,” CEO Gregor Strobbe explains. Only five years ago, Gregor Strobbe (CEO), Professor Pieter van Mierlo (CTO), and Professor Vincent Keereman (CMO) established Epilog as a spin-off company of Ghent University and Antwerp University with the support of Imec. The healthcare start-up quickly became one of the best epilepsy research and medical device companies in the world thanks to its revolutionary technology.
“The great advantage of our service is that we can analyze long-term patient EEG recordings. This means that neurologists no longer have to spend hours visually processing the data. Our vision is to give clinicians more certainty and efficiency and to enable the shift to ‘precision medicine’ in the pharmaceutical industry through EEG biomarkers. This makes it possible to better adjust the medication, which is currently not working in one-third of the 600,000 epilepsy patients living in the UK. Our cloud-based software also helps surgical procedures, as it can locate the problem area more precisely.” – Gregor Strobbe
Investment for new applications
Epilepsy may be at the heart of Epilog, but thanks to the investment of radiation oncologist Dr. Jean-Briac Prévost, PMV financing, and Belgium’s footballer Jan Vertonghen, the current main objective is to extend the software to other disorders that can be detected with EEG. Gregor Strobbe: “We are currently mainly looking at sleep problems, but the potential is enormous: Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression, migraines… This capital injection will allow Epilog to expand its team from 13 to 20 employees with new sales and engineering staff to achieve its growth goals.”
The new capital comes from investors who firmly believe in Epilog. Jan Vertonghen is one of those investors.
“I have known Gregor since high school, and I firmly believe in Epilog’s growth story. It is a magnificent company that is close to my heart, so I am very pleased that through Epilog I can now contribute to the research and the care of those affected by epilepsy.” – Jan Vertonghen
Artificial Intelligence for sleep problems
Radiation oncologist Dr. Jean-Briac Prévost and his wife, a pulmonologist, also predict a great future for Epilog, particularly with regard to the added value artificial intelligence (AI) can bring to medicine. The more data Epilog collects and analyzes, the smarter the software will become. This will in turn generate huge efficiency benefits, save time and improve the accuracy of brain activity analyses. This will free up time for specialist nurses, who are now spending hours and hours analyzing this type of data in sleep clinics. And for doctors, who will be able to spend more time with their patients.
“We are at a turning point in certain fields of medicine. As one of the first technology companies with CE marking and FDA clearance for an AI-based medical application in epilepsy, Epilog is at the forefront of this revolution by focusing on EEG across various applications. My wife and I are both doctors, and we want to support this development further. When engineers and medical experts work together, they can make great progress because they look at things differently, they learn from each other and so they complement each other perfectly. Together we can identify and validate suitable applications for AI. The know-how that Epilog has successfully gained will undoubtedly lead to additional applications that will have a substantial impact on patients and healthcare in general.” – Dr. Jean-Briac Prévost
The cloud, coronavirus, and the pharmaceutical industry
Epilog is already supplying its software in Europe, and has partnered with Persyst, an EEG software company, for its distribution in the US.
“Everything happens in the cloud, which really plays to our advantage right now,” Gregor Strobbe explains. “Covid has accelerated the digitization of healthcare. People also see the benefits of technology, as it is more objective than patients keeping records of themselves. Instead of having to keep a tally, patients can now perform an EEG at home themselves with a nurse and submit the data. In conclusion, we offer enormous added value in all fields using EEG/MRI scans. This also includes the pharmaceutical industry, which is increasingly using EEG research to support the development of new medicines. Consequently, we look forward to the future with great enthusiasm and confidence.”
Epilog was founded in 2016 by three engineering doctoral students at Ghent University – Gregor Strobbe (CEO), Pieter van Mierlo (CTO), and Vincent Keereman (CMO) – with the support of the IMEC research center. Epilog has built on the pioneering work of Professor Paul Boon of the neurology department at Ghent University Hospital. In the late 1980s, Professor Boon started a research project on epilepsy EEG analysis together with engineers at Ghent University. Epilog has developed its own software that keeps a detailed 3D record of the spikes in the brains of epilepsy patients based on EEGs and MRI scans. The spin-off currently employs 13 people and will soon expand its team to 20 people. Neurologists and specialized centers for epilepsy treatment from countries such as Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, and the United States submit their EEG and MRI results to Epilog online for analysis. Up to 50% of this type of brain mapping is done for American treatment centers. In 2020, Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 award program nominated Epilog for its prestigious Rising Star Award for the second year in a row.