Investment company BPH Energy (ASX: BPH) has revealed that one of its investees, Cortical Dynamics, had agreed to co-operate with the US division of Dutch technology giant Philips, to raise adoption and expand the functionality of its Brain Anaesthesia Response Monitor (BARM) system.
Currently, BPH Energy owns a 16% stake in Cortical, in addition to supplementary investments in other sectors including a 22.6% interest in oil and gas explorer Advent Energy and a 10% stake in Chilean medical cannabis developer Patagonia Genetics.
In a statement to the market this morning, BPH reported that Cortical had signed a non-exclusive licence and co-operation agreement with Philips Healthcare North America to integrate its BARM monitor into Philips’ IntelliVue and Patient Information Center (PIC iX) monitoring systems using the IntelliBridge integration product line.
Ultimately, Cortical wants to develop an EEG-based anaesthesia monitor that is non-invasive, accurate and safe – a treatment tool which UK healthcare body the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended given the risk of adverse outcomes from existing anaesthesia monitoring systems.
According to Cortical, it has developed a “next-generation” brain function monitor, able to measure the effect of anaesthesia on brain activity, thereby assisting clinicians in keeping patients optimally anaesthetised at all times.
The system has been certified in multiple regions having received Korean KMPG approval, most recently in South Korea.
It has been estimated that general anaesthesia was used in as many as 29 million major general surgeries in Europe last year. Of these, 55% were “balanced” whereby a combination of intravenous agents such as propofol and inhalable gases were used, and 20% were classified as “total intravenous anaesthesia” using only propofol – the drug that killed cult pop icon Michael Jackson in 2009.
The BARM system works by measuring a patient’s rhythmic brain electric activity (EEG) and determining how deeply a patient is anaesthetised during an operation.
Cortical’s BARM system was first developed at Swinburne University, with an initial objective of detecting the effects of anaesthesia on brain activity.
According to Cortical, the device’s approach is “fundamentally different” from other devices currently available, because its underlying algorithm produces EEG indexes that are directly related to the physiological state of a patient’s brain rather than statistics.
The device provides a reading within three seconds of being switched on followed by intra-second updates thereafter alongside parallel systems that also alerts clinicians.
According to research provider Markets and Markets, the global brain monitoring devices market is currently worth around US$9 billion (A$13 billion) per year and expected to grow 30% to US$11.6 billion (A$17 billion) by 2024.
The sector is segmented into three categories based on its product, application and end-user with all segments experiencing growth across the board due to the growing prevalence of neurological disorders, autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases across the world.
A report set to be published by Grand View Research refers to the growing number of neurological ailments as the “primary growth driver” behind the global brain monitoring devices market.
The report cites high incidence rates as being a high impact driver for brain disorders such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and brain tumours.
According to estimates from the World Health Organisation, there were at least 50 million cases of epilepsy globally in 2011 with a further 2.5 million suffering from multiple sclerosis.
Even more worrying than the headline nominal figures is the direction of trend.
The number of people suffering from neurological conditions is rising steadily and persistently – in many cases, deterioration of mental health and cognition is even higher in developed countries where high incomes and modern healthcare are assumed to be effective in staving off disease.
However, this widely held assumption is proving to be wide of the mark as developed countries continue to suffer from growing incidences in a wide variety of diseases.
Moreover, the brain monitoring market growth is also being fuelled by various technological advancements that improve functionality, lower production costs, simplify usability and miniaturise existing designs.
According to Cortical, it intends to initially focus on the European total intravenous anaesthesia (TIVA) market and said that TIVA provides a method of inducing and maintaining general anaesthesia without the use of any inhalation agents.