Jul 10, 2020

Startup Spotlight: Kernel’s non-invasive brain recording

brain
Data
Cloud
platform
William Smith
2 min
Kernel is a Los Angeles, California-based startup developing non-invasive brain recording technology
Kernel is a Los Angeles, California-based startup developing non-invasive brain recording technology...

Kernel is a Los Angeles, California-based startup developing non-invasive brain recording technology.

The company’s neuroscience as a service (NaaS) platform is commercially available, enabling customers to access brain imaging devices remotely.

Its brain recording technologies are known as Flow and Flux. The latter detects magnetic fields generated by neural activity, while Flow measures blood flow as representative of neural activity.

It says its products overcome the limitations of current brain imaging hardware, which can be expensive, bulky or require surgery.

Kernel hopes to create an ecosystem for human improvement based on what it calls a “neurome”, analogous to a person’s genome.

Since its foundation in 2016, the company has raised a significant sum. Its latest Series C, which it said was its first outside funding round, saw the company raise $53mn from lead investor General Catalyst, alongside Tiny Blue Dot, Manta Ray Ventures, Khosla Ventures and Eldridge.

In a press release, the company’s CEO and founder Bryan Johnson said: “Mainframes became PCs and then smartphones. The $1B genome became the $1,000 genome. The brain and mind are next. 

“We live in a data-illuminated world, but the user manuals for our brains have no diagnostic or useful numbers, leaving us with no option but to describe and characterize cognition using hunches.” Johnson continued, “Imagine a cardiologist asking you how your heart is doing based upon your hunches, without cholesterol or blood pressure.

“If we can quantify thoughts and emotions, conscious and subconscious, a new era of understanding, wellness, and human improvement will emerge.”

The company said it would use the investment to accelerate on-demand access to its products, developing its technology further.

“The vision fueling Kernel is one of the most audacious imaginable.” said Quentin Clark, General Partner, General Catalyst. “But that ambition has a passionate and committed founder and team, and pragmatic engineering work to back it up. Kernel’s engineering accomplishments have the potential to enable more neuroscience progress in the next few years than has been accomplished in the last few decades.”

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Jul 28, 2021

5 mins with... Johannes Bhakdi, Quantgene

COVID19
Genomics
AI
biotechnology
3 min
5 mins with... Johannes Bhakdi, Quantgene
Johannes Bhakdi, CEO of Quantgene, tells us about their approach to identifying new COVID-19 variants

Quantgene is a US biotech company that uses AI and the cloud to do genomic testing. It was founded in 2015 to focus on cancer - integrating advanced genomics and molecular diagnostics systems with the cloud and AI systems. 

CEO Johannes Bhakdi tells us Quantgene is the first COVID-19 testing company to fully integrate variant identification - we find out more. 

Given the new Delta and Lambda variants, is the coronavirus mutating at a faster rate than most viruses?
 
The reason SARS-COV2 is mutating on a perceived higher rate is not that the individual viruses mutate at a higher rate, but that the base population infected with the virus is vastly higher. The absolute rate of global mutations is a direct function of how many people have the virus at any given point in time. Since this is a global pandemic, and tens of millions have been infected, we see more mutations. 

That makes it more unpredictable, because any single mutation that has an evolutionary advantage - like the Delta variant - can then take over and spread even faster.  

What is the usual process for testing and analysing viral mutations? 

The most effective tool for analysing mutations is Whole Viral Genome sequencing. It allows you to read out the entire genome of the virus. Once the wet-lab sequencing is complete, we use this information to map it against what is called a "reference genome", meaning the classic SARS-COV2 genome. This allows us to then see any differences between the investigated sample and the baseline genome of SARS COV2. 

We then use these differences to map them against a database of known mutations, like the Delta variant. That way we can see if we are dealing with any known variant, and if we have a new variant at our hands, as well as determine what this new variant does to the spike protein and how likely it is to be a problem with antigens and vaccines, based on the changed protein structure. This last step is not easy and not clear-cut, and there is some speculation into the determination of how problematic the mutated proteins are. 

 What does Quantgene do differently?  

At Quantgene, we are focusing on solving problems for our clients - may it be employers, movie productions or governments. That means we ensure that our client gets the COVID protection they need in the fastest possible time frame and at the highest precision possible - mostly at or below market prices. 

We are bringing together technologies like RT-PCR testing and mutation profiling/sequencing, as well as advanced bioinformatics and computational resources to ensure high-quality results are being delivered seamlessly. 

We are also adding important components such as real-time cloud software and medical services to it. Simply put, we turn the COVID problem into a one-click seamless solution that works better than others, so companies and government clients don't have to deal with laboratories, medical or software providers who point fingers at each other and fail to deliver in time and with high precision. COVID is too dangerous and important to risk falling short.     

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