Looking ahead - and above
- from Shaastra :: vol 01 issue 02 :: Mar - Apr 2022
Start-ups root for farmers, patients and safe space.
Founders: Rimjhim Agrawal and Laina Emmanuel
Big idea: AI-based imaging and digital analysis of fMRI scans to help patients
Rimjhim Agrawal and Laina Emmanuel first met at the accelerator programme of Entrepreneur First in Bengaluru in 2019. Agrawal, armed with a PhD from NIMHANS in the use of AI in diagnosis of mental disorders, was looking to work in the healthcare space. She joined hands with Emmanuel, whose expertise was in healthcare business, to start BrainSightAI.
At BrainSightAI, Agrawal and Emmanuel are building an AI-based digital platform to analyse data from brain scans at greater depth than previously possible. "The older MRIs provided a structural road map of the brain. Our cutting-edge imaging modalities allow us to build a traffic map of the entire brain together," Emmanuel says. To generate this additional layer of information they use an advanced imaging tool called resting-state fMRI (Functional magnetic resonance imaging), which is able to look at the blood flow inside the brain and assess the level of oxygen in the blood. The idea being that the areas of the brain that are highly activated take more oxygen than the less activated parts. This creates a map of where activation is happening across the brain.
This data is then analysed using AI-based digital tools to look for patterns that could be indicative of early signs of diseases such as dementia. Many researchers are moving away from the paradigm that these brain-based disorders are about something unusual in specific regions of the brain. Rather, they are looking at networks across the brain. The data is also useful for neurosurgeons looking to do brain surgery because it can mark areas of high activity in the brain.