Ybrain, a Korean startup that makes wearables for Alzheimer’s patients, announced today that it has raised $3.5 million in Series A funding led by Stonebridge Capital, bringing its total raised so far to $4.2 million. Co-founder Seungyeon Kim told TechCrunch that the money will be used for clinical trials and the manufacturing of its wearable devices.
The company was founded in 2013 by Kyongsik Yun, a neuroscientist who trained at the California Institute of Technology, and engineers from Samsung.
Ybrain is currently conducting clinical trials at Samsung Medical Center in Korea.
Kim says that Soterix Medical, another wearable device maker, is Ybrain’s closest direct competitor, while global pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and Novartis are indirect competitors. He adds that Ybrain is currently the only company carrying out clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease with a wearable health device.
Ybrain wearable device consists of a headband with two sensors embedded in the front that emit electronic signals at 2-milli-amperes, which stimulate brain activity to counteract the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. The device is supposed to be used for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, and can be worn at home. The headband is also intended for use by people with “mild cognitive impairment.”
The startup’s clinical trials currently show that its wearable devices are 20 percent to 30 percent more effective than existing oral medication for Alzheimer’s patients. “This was key to our funding,” says Kim.
The devices will be available for purchase online and through hospitals after Ybrain finishes clinical trials and registers with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. as well as the Korean Food and Drug Administration (KFDA).
In a statement, Fortune Sohn, analyst at Stonebridge Capital, said “Most Alzheimer’s disease experts are forecasting that new Alzheimer’s oral medications may not come out until 2025. Ybrain’s global first Alzheimer patient ready wearables will be a great solution.”