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nQ’s Study of Digital Biomarkers

nQ’s Study of Digital Biomarkers for Subdomain Analysis of Cognition Published in Brain Communications

nQ Medical, a company transforming neurology care with digital biomarkers and virtual first offerings to manage neurodegenerative diseases, announced today that Brain Communications has published a new paper focused around their novel work on the development of digital biomarkers for subdomain analysis of the cognitive function (DOI:fcac194 https://doi.org/10.1093/braincomms/fcac194), done in collaboration with UTHealth Houston School of Biomedical Informatics , and the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

nQ introduces a novel approach that leverages a data source collected remotely by passively monitoring users’ daily finger interactions with their personal devices, facilitating longitudinal patient assessment in the real-world scenario, and with high patient compliance. “In this work, we used machine learning algorithms to estimate cognitive performance through the analysis of keystroke dynamic patterns that were extracted from mechanical and touchscreen keyboard use in a dataset of healthy controls and cognitively impaired subjects. These algorithms are trained and evaluated using a novel framework that integrates items from multiple neuropsychological and clinical scales into cognitive subdomains to generate a more holistic representation of multifaceted clinical signs,” explained Luca Giancardo, PhD, Assistant Professor and one of the principal investigators with the Center for Precision Health at UTHealth Houston School of Biomedical Informatics.

“We believe that digital biomarkers are the foundation for measurement-based neurological health care, for which there is a significant unmet patient need. In this study we showed that the way a person types on a mechanical keyboard or mobile phone correlated with how they perform on standardized tests. This is an exciting finding as we move toward new tools that measure cognitive function and brain health that are quantitative, reproducible, continuous, and objective,” said study co-author, Aaron Ritter, MD, Neuropsychiatrist at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, in Las Vegas.

Smartphone users touch and interact with their devices many times over many hours each day, engaging in complex actions and gestures —what nQ refers to as keystroke and touchscreen dynamics. “The brain, finger, device connection is controlled by complex cognitive and fine motor processes. At nQ we work on the development of pattern recognition techniques that translate our daily typing patterns into quantitative metrics about our psychomotor health. nQ tracks ‘how’ you use your device not ‘what’ you are doing on your device. We can extract valuable clinical information without invading the user’s privacy. We do not need to view user messages, app and website use, nor geolocation or media,” explains Teresa Arroyo Gallego, PhD, Chief Data Scientist at nQ Medical.

“The traditional measures of neurological health are infrequent, subjective, and expensive clinician-administered tests. They have relatively low inter-rater reliability, and don’t assess patients in real world settings. Cognitive and motor function vary widely from hour to hour, day to day, and are subject to a range of environmental factors. Real-time, continuous, objective measurements in the home and community are key for enabling a new outpatient care model for neurology patients,” added Dr. Arroyo Gallego.

In the study, participants underwent a series of pre-defined typing tasks designed to emulate daily interactions with computers and smartphones. In addition, they underwent a comprehensive neurocognitive assessment involving 16 neuropsychiatric tests and PET Scan. Using machine learning, the team was able to optimize a collection of typing-based metrics against specific subdomains of cognitive performance. In particular, results exhibited stronger performance in the quantification of executive function, verbal and non-verbal memory and language skills subdomains.

The team looks at these results as a step forward towards our goal of turning real-world user-device interaction into a powerful everyday monitoring tool for continuous, objective and precise characterization of people’s psychomotor health.

About nQ Medical, Inc.
nQ Medical is redefining the management and treatment of neurodegenerative disorders with technology to measure brain function continuously and passively from human-computer interactions on ubiquitous mobile devices. The company is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is backed by DigiTx Partners, Esplanade Ventures, and Poplar Ventures. To learn more, visit http://www.nq-medical.com.

About UTHealth Houston School of Biomedical Informatics
As a global academic leader in the areas of artificial intelligence, data science, and informatics for medicine and health care, UTHealth Houston School of Biomedical Informatics is helping the world reshape the future of medicine and health care through active engagement in the artificial intelligence revolution. It is one of six schools that make up UTHealth Houston, which in 1972 was created by The University of Texas System Board of Regents as The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. UTHealth Houston is Texas’ resource for health care education, innovation, scientific discovery and excellence in patient care. For more information, visit http://www.uth.edu.

About Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is a unique and exciting concept in medicine: a medical center dedicated solely to the pursuit of more effective treatments for brain diseases and to the provision of state-of-the-art care for patients affected by these diseases and their families. Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health provides diagnosis and ongoing treatment for patients with cognitive disorders and support services for family members who care for them, integrating research and education at every level. We take a team approach to neurological care, with physicians, advanced practice clinicians and nurses working in an integrated fashion.

Across our four locations — Cleveland and Lakewood, Ohio; Las Vegas, Nevada and Weston, Florida — our treatment programs are designed to provide excellent care and to respect the dignity of patients and their families. Our collaborative clinical research programs help to advance Cleveland Clinic's groundbreaking clinical trials and offer hope for improving brain health.

An individualized treatment plan is developed for each patient who is treated at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The plan is tailored to each patient and may include recommendations for medications, physical exercise, diet, cognitive rehabilitation, psychiatric treatment (when needed), participation in clinical trials and family support.

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