Empowering neurological patients through acceleration in research

Katharina Kittelberger

Startup Stories

There's one phone call that Neeraj Kothari, co-founder and co-CEO of Cogniant, will likely remember for the rest of his life. In the phone call, the strange voice informed him that it had found his grandfather, who had Alzheimer's disease. Unable to remember his current home address, the elderly man traveled a distance of 300 kilometers in ten days to find the town where he grew up as a child. 

"This event was symbolic to me of two previously unconsidered problems, namely outdated patient monitoring and disease management of neurological patients that needs improvement," Neeraj explains. "The founding of Cogniant in 2019 with Mairin Reid was further fueled by my ten years of professional experience in health tech to that point." 

Participating in our 5-HT X-Linker "Digital Health for Pharma”, the Singapore-based health startup has already been able to showcase to a wide audience how it improves both diagnostic pathways and disease monitoring for patients with neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. 

In an interview with 5-HT, Neeraj talks about how Cogniant helps neurological patients and the opportunities he sees in the cooperation with 5-HT. 

Neeraj Kothari, co-founder and co-CEO of Cogniant

The problem identified by Cogniant and its approach to solving it 

In general, episodic clinical assessment of patients with neurological conditions is unable to detect a patient's subtle symptom changes. This leads to worsening symptoms, delayed diagnoses, and poorer overall health outcomes, among other problems. Cogniant addresses these exact problems: 

"Our software app is a mobile, patient-centric solution for clinical trial sponsors and healthcare professionals who need to remotely monitor patients in their trials. Through our approach, we minimize patient dropouts and ensure better treatment adherence," Neeraj said. 

In addition, Cogniant's use of digital biomarkers enables objective measurement of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.

Not only researchers, physicians and patients, but also pharmaceutical companies are using Cogniant's clinically validated solution. This is because the data collected enables them to perform comprehensive phenotyping, clinical condition prediction and outcome measurement, ultimately ensuring early disease detection.

What sets Cogniant apart from other startups with similar solutions

By providing validated, high-frequency, passive digital biomarkers to complement hospital management, Cogniant is helping patients with depression, chronic pain, and mild cognitive impairment in research and in the real world. Here, digital biomakers solve the problem of the current way of assessing and monitoring patients in the field of neuroscience, because it is based on patients' self-reports, which are subjective and often do not accurately reflect the disease state. This is where digital biomarkers offer an objective way to measure and detect neuroscience-related diseases.

"Here, we specialize in digital multi-model biomarkers. These do not focus on just one aspect, such as the change in voice pitch, but include a large number of parameters. This allows us to build a holistic picture of the cognitive functions of the patients in addition to their daily physical activities," explains Neeraj.

Cogniant's digital biomarkers enable the creation of holistic disease pictures 

Technologically, Cogniant has a clear advantage: "To obtain high-quality and comprehensive data, we use existing hardware such as smartphones, wearable technologies and specialized software." 

What was your experience at the X-Linker: "Digital Health for Pharma"?

"First of all, I have to thank here the whole 5-HT team for smoothly organizing the event". Moreover, Neeraj saw a lot of benefits for Cogniant in participating: "On the one hand, the meetings with all the pharma companies we had the opportunity to present our solution to were very valuable. On the other hand, the feedback we received from the 5-HT X-Linker team helped us tremendously. After all, summarizing one's business model in such a way that it can be pitched within just 4 minutes is not easy. The coaching from 5-HT helped us highlight the most important aspects of Cogniant. 

We hope that the momentum we were able to take from the event will stay with us in the future," Neeraj emphasizes. 

What are your plans for the future?

Currently, new customers, employees and investors are the three main concerns of the young health startup. Neeraj adds, "As a digital medicine company, we want to partner with other international pharmaceutical companies to expand globally. 

We believe 5-HT can help us scale better in Europe. We see further opportunities of collaboration in getting in touch with different players from different regions to increase our presence accordingly. Ultimately, we want to expand our team and see 5-HT's support as valuable in this regard as well." 

Participation in the 5-HT X-Linker "Digital Health for Pharma" also set a new course for Cogniant. For Neeraj, "the X-Linker was a first step of many to come." 

Like Cogniant, 5-HT is excited to see where the journey takes them and looks forward to contributing to their success.  

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