Richmond-based developer of concussion test BrainBox raises $23 million to further its clinical trials 

Richmond Times-Dispatch
December 8, 2020

A Richmond-based company that has developed a medical test to assist with the diagnosis and prognosis of concussions has attracted $23 million from investors to help advance its research.

BrainBox Solutions on Tuesday announced it had closed on a $23 million Series A financing round — the company’s largest-ever investment round — to support the clinical development of the company’s test for mild Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, which can affect more than 5 million people a year and cause long-term cognitive problems.

BrainBox is based in the Virginia Bio+Tech Research Park in downtown Richmond. The startup company was spun off in 2018 as a separate business from ImmunArray, another biotech firm in Richmond that developed a proprietary test to rule out the presence of the autoimmune disease lupus in blood samples.

The TBI test developed by BrainBox uses several inputs to assess a brain injury, including a panel of blood biomarkers as well as neurocognitive testing. The company is working in partnership with BrainCheck Inc., based in Houston, Texas, on those tests.

Using proprietary computer algorithms, the TBI test combines those results and patient-reported outcomes to generate a single, objective score for a diagnosis up to 96 hours from the time of a head injury. It also generates a prognosis report for likely injury-related symptoms up to three months after the injury.

The investment will allow BrainBox to do further clinical development of its test, in what the company calls its Headsmart II study. That study is scheduled to start soon and is expected to last about 15 months to 18 months, with up to 2,000 patients who have suffered concussions as a results of sports or accidents. The clinical trial will enable the company to file for FDA approval for its test, said Donna Edmonds, the chief executive officer of BrainBox.

Eighteen health care sites around the world will participate in the study. In Virginia, health care providers Bon Secours, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech’s Carilion Clinic will participate in the study. Virginia Commonwealth University will be conducting the core radiology lab work for the study.
“It has been a very disciplined, focused and concerted effort to make this Virginia-centric,” Edmonds said.

The company says more than five million patients are evaluated in emergency rooms annually for mild traumatic brain injury as well as additional patients in urgent care settings.

Investors in the $23 million round include BioVentures Investors, the Tauber Foundation, the Virginia Tech Carilion Innovation and Seed Funds, Genoa VC, Pharmakon Holdings LLC, Astia Angels and additional qualified investors, including Kevin Love, a professional basketball player and mental health advocate.

“Support from this investor group is a strong vote of confidence in our strategy and our vision for changing the paradigm and setting the standard of care for diagnosis and prognosis with BrainBox TBI,” Edmonds said.

Along with the financing, the company on Tuesday announced two key appointments to its four-member board of directors, which also has non-voting observers, and its seven-member scientific advisory board.

Joining the board of directors is Dr. Scott Gazelle, a professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and vice chair of the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Radiology.

Joining the company’s scientific advisory board and its sports advisory board is Dr. Damon Kuehl, vice chair of emergency medicine and associate professor of emergency medicine at Virginia Tech’s Carillon School of Medicine, and director of the school’s Emergency Medicine Residency Program.

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