Space institute funds eye tracking technology and software-enabled therapeutics for brain health
The EyeBoxCNS,a diagnostic device developed to assess brain health through tracking eye movement, and eFormulations, software enabled therapeutics which combine prescription medicines with customized software apps for brain-related conditions, have both been funded for further development by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI).
EyeBoxCNS, developed by Oculogica, Inc. of New York City, and eFormulations, a therapeutic platform by Pear Therapeutics, Inc. of Boston, are the latest technologies to benefit through funding from the Space Medical and Related Technologies Commercialization Program (SMARTCAP), administered by NSBRI’s Industry Forum. SMARTCAP grants are used to partner with the private sector to accelerate the development of products meeting a need in space as well as on Earth.
Elevated pressure on the brain due to exposure to the space environment is believed to cause visual impairments in some astronauts.
“EyeBoxCNS can detect weaknesses of the nerves that move the eye. These nerves are very sensitive to changes in pressure on the brain, and thus are revealed by the eye tracking technology we are developing,” said Dr. Uzma Samadani, who together with Robert Ritlop, cofounded Oculogica.
Pear Therapeutics is developing combination therapies for a variety of brain-related disorders including pain, sleep disturbances, depression, and anxiety. A specific prescription medication is paired with an individualized software-based app, that together work in concert.
“eFormulations provide the only way to simultaneously impact brain experience as well as brain chemistry. That combination provides an extremely powerful way to treat brain-related disorders, both on Earth and in space,” said Dr. Corey McCann, CEO of Pear Therapeutics.
“EyeboxCNS and eFormulations represent new ways to administer healthcare and we are thrilled to play our part in accelerating the development of these promising technologies for the benefit of space explorers as well as people on Earth,” said Dr. Dorit Donoviel, NSBRI’s Deputy Chief Scientist and Industry Forum Lead. Donoviel is also an assistant professor within the Baylor College of Medicine Center for Space Medicine and Department of Pharmacology. “SMARTCAP offers grants that help small companies broaden the reach of their products, open new market opportunities, and simultaneously address the significant challenges faced by humans living and working in space.”
SMARTCAP now accepts applications year-round, with applications reviewed quarterly. To be considered for review during grant cycle 2 (April - July, 2014), applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. central time, May 8, 2014. Submission guidelines and additional information regarding SMARTCAP are located at www.smartcap.org. Grant recipients must secure a 100-percent match in funding. This leveraging of federal funding actively fosters public-private collaborations and partnerships.
SMARTCAP-funded projects should advance the commercialization of a product. Examples of desirable project goals are new applications for existing products, reformulation or refinement of prototypes, or usability testing. The outcomes must address a high priority need in space and improve life on Earth.
Established in 1997 through a NASA competition, NSBRI is based at Baylor College of Medicine and is a consortium of leading biomedical institutions including BCM, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Harvard Medical School, The Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Morehouse School of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Rice University, Texas A&M University, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, University of Pennsylvania Health System and University of Washington. NSBRI, a 501(c)(3) organization partnered with NASA, is studying the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight and developing the technologies and countermeasures needed for human space exploration missions. The Institute's science, technology and education projects take place at approximately 60 institutions across the United States.For more information, please visit www.nsbri.org.