October 2023

Ephion Health edging chronic patients’ monitoring using digital biomarkers from wearable sensors and artificial intelligence

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Ephion Health is a technology company that has developed a digital platform for capturing patients’ functional movement capacity. The platform allows for the precise and objective monitoring of patients in both inpatient and outpatient care as well as in research settings. The company was founded in 2021 and is based in Barcelona, Spain. Ephion Health aims to revolutionize the monitoring of patients suffering from chronic diseases and uses wearables and artificial intelligence to create new clinically validated digital biomarkers.

Why real-world motion data matters for disease monitoring

Numerous diseases are closely linked to changes in gait patterns. Understanding the significance of gait analysis as a starting point for targeted disease monitoring as an important part of treating people in an adequate and modern way. Monitoring gait abnormalities in real-world settings is essential because gait assessments conducted in controlled environments may not capture the full range of challenges individuals face in their daily lives. Ephion wanted to develop a solution to these challenges, because the quality of gait was mentioned along by patients in direct relation to a good quality of life.

Ephion Health’s teaming up for a vision

Quique Laudet (CEO of Ephion Health) always had a burning desire to be an inventor. Since he was a young child, he felt a deep longing to comprehend and heal the human body. It was an insatiable fascination that consumed his entire professional life.

As an Organic Chemist, Quique dedicated his work to extensive research. He delved into the realm of invention, patenting groundbreaking technologies and founding own startups to revolutionize medical treatments. But deep within his heart, his true aspiration was to make a profound impact on the lives of patients suffering from rare diseases.

Fate intervened when he crossed paths with Mireia Claramount, Chief Technology Officer of Ephion Health, and Sebastian Idelsohn, Chief Scientific Officer of Ephion Health and Doctor in Biomechanics, two years ago. At that time, they were engrossed in developing a tool that utilized wearables and machine learning to monitor children afflicted with rare diseases.

Ephion Health teams up for new digital biomarker solution
Ephion health founder team

To find a solution for their  central questions became their driving force: “How can we utilize artificial intelligence to remotely comprehend our bodies? How can we enable a doctor to accurately assess a child who can barely walk without the need for a hospital visit? How can we ensure that an ailing patient residing in a remote area receives the timely and appropriate treatment they desperately need?”

The ability to monitor patient mobility in real-life situations had been severely limited by a lack of simplicity and objectivity until now. The trio recognized this glaring gap in healthcare and set out with a big vision: The company’s objective is to make Ephion Health the new standard for digital clinical measures of conditions that affect mobility. Together, they embarked on a remarkable journey. But the road from a mere idea to the realization of their ambitious goal was fraught with many challenges. Undeterred, they gathered together and spent countless hours sharing their visions and merging their expertise and passion. At the end of that process Ephion Health was born.

A big step towards a holistic solution: Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and pharma collaborations

The stage was set for Ephion Health to transform the landscape of healthcare, empowering patients, caregivers, and researchers alike. One particular neuromuscular disorder that captured their attention and had an effect on the gait pattern was Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) – a rare disease primarily affecting boys due to its connection to the X-chromosome.

DMD usually presents in early childhood with delayed motor milestones including delays in walking independently and standing up from a supine position. Proximal weakness causes a waddling gait and difficulty climbing stairs, running, jumping, and standing up from a squatting position. As individuals with Duchenne muscular dystrophy move from the early to late phase, the gait pattern shows an increase in anterior pelvic tilt, maximum hip flexion in swing, and maximum internal foot rotation in stance, while maximum hip extension in stance and ankle dorsiflexion in swing decrease.

Driven by their mission, Ephion Health aspired to enhance the quality of life for Duchenne patients by providing a clinically validated solution that revolutionized clinical care and trials. Objective monitoring of patients in both inpatient and outpatient care would be possible. Their platform would provide physicians and researchers with an objective, digital assessment of patient mobility, using data that can be obtained in patients’ real lives. Furthermore, Ephion aims to collaborate with pharmaceutical companies, offering their platform to accelerate clinical research and facilitate the development of new drugs, targeting even more diseases that profoundly affect mobility — all in a faster and more cost-effective manner.

To achieve their shared goal of advancing patient mobility assessment, Ephion Health integrated Moticon’s sensor insoles into their wearables portfolio. Moticon’s  in-shoe measurement technology allows the platform to capture  biomechanical, laboratory-grade gait, which is an essential cornerstone for the assessment of patients’ physical capacity. Enrique Llaudet, CEO of Ephion Health, envisions his company as the new standard for digital clinical measures of conditions affecting mobility.

“The collaboration with Moticon is an important step towards achieving this ambitious goal. We use several wearables and integrate them in our mobile app. This allows us to capture a massive amount of health data with the touch of a single button. To ensure that the quality of the results is right and meets the high medical requirements, we rely on the outstanding quality of our wearables. With Moticon, we have found an excellent partner. Then, after collecting the laboratory-grade data, we securely and anonymously upload it to our servers where we analyze it with our proprietary machine learning algorithms and complete a single clinical validated score of the patient status. These AI-derived biomarkers that are generated are then shared with the physicians. The product brings doctors a new tool to quantify the evolution of their patients. It allows them to do 3 main things:

  • Understand the progression of the disease
  • Quantify the effect of the therapy
  • Predict clinical outcomes”

Sensor based functional movement screening proved more precise than status quo

In the meantime, Ephion Health has made significant progress on its journey. Their platform allows a more objective assessment of patients with relevant data about their gait characteristics and physiological changes. A recent scientific publication has shown how the technology can be used to detect changes in the mobility of patients with greater precision than current functional assessments. It has been validated with people suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, as part of the 6MWT+ project funded and supported by EIT Health.

Two new clinical trials have been launched including patients with neuromuscular diseases at the Santa Creu i Sant Pau and Sant Joan de Déu hospitals in Barcelona. Additionally, there is a third pilot study in collaboration with Quirón Salud to monitor the risk of falling in elderly  frail patients.

Wrap up

Ephion Health has started out revolutionizing patient monitoring for those who need it the most, but their ultimate goal is to enhance the lives of many more patients. They recognize that a wide range of diseases are associated with changes in gait patterns, and their aim is to comprehensively understand disease progression, quantify the efficacy of therapies, and predict clinical outcomes.

Looking ahead, Ephion Health has plans to expand their platform to include additional diseases that impact gait, such as Multiple Sclerosis and Stroke. This expansion aims to improve the diagnostic and treatment processes for these conditions. Moreover, they intend for their platform to become an invaluable tool in the field of orthopedics, particularly for post-hip and knee surgery cases, as well as assisting in reducing fall risks among the elderly. These ongoing research and development efforts reflect Ephion Health’s commitment to advancing healthcare.

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