Understanding pain is still a major challenge for millions of doctors and patients around the world: How severe is a patient’s pain? Can the level of pain tell the physician something about the patient’s condition?
An Israeli biomed startup called Medasense has developed a technology that mathematically measures pain in order to give doctors the best assessments. And that’s why last week, the company was announced as one of two winners of the startup competition at the Israel Advanced Technology Industries (IATI) Biomed Conference.
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Founded in 2008 by Galit Zuckerman, Medasense’s innovative technology assesses changes in a patient’s level of pain. The company’s flagship product is a non-invasive pain monitoring device that can help clinicians achieve better patient outcomes by accurately adjusting treatment.
“Managing pain remains a major challenge”
Everyone knows that the sensation of pain is completely subjective, and doctors mostly rely on patients’ self-reports. “Pain is now widely considered the fifth vital sign, yet managing pain, especially in the surgical setting, remains a major challenge,” Medasense’s board member Dr. Daniel Sessler said in a statement. “Physicians currently rely on patients’ subjective assessments, or use their own judgment when patients cannot describe their pain. Medasense offers a new approach.”
The new approach involves developing an algorithm that mathematically measures pain. “Some people under anaesthesia remain awake yet paralyzed, not being able to communicate their pain”, Zuckerman tells NoCamels. That’s why it’s important to translate pain into numbers.
How does it work? The pain monitor is a sensor-woven sleeve worn on a patient’s finger, which takes blood pressure, pulse, sweat, temperature and movement readings, using statistical tools to give an objective pain reading. According to the company, the device is expected to receive approval from the EU in the coming months, which would pave the way to marketing elsewhere in the world. So far, Medasense has raised $5 million in private rounds.
Seven years of research
Medasense has spent seven years researching, analyzing data and designing its algorithms before achieving validation for a pain pattern based on data. The company has teamed up with pain management expert Dr. Elon Eisenberg of the Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa. “The collaborations we’ve made with doctors and researchers are invaluable,” Zuckerman says.
Zuckerman’s computer science and electronics experience, combined with a period spent in the Israeli Chief Scientist’s startup accelerator, gave Medasense the tools necessary to build its pain monitor. Zuckerman says Medasense’s technology doesn’t stop here, with plans to make the monitor more patient-friendly: “We are planning new devices that would plug directly into your smartphone.”
Medasense Biometrics was one of two startup companies winning the startup competition at the IATI Biomed conference last week; Quiet Therapeutics, which develops a nanoparticle-based drug delivery system, was the other winner.
Photos and video courtesy of Medasense Biometrics