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Revolutionizing Cannabis Research: How Zentrela’s Cognalyzer® is Leading the Way in AI Neurotechnology

Explore the innovative world of Zentrela and their Cognalyzer®, a cutting-edge tool that combines wearable EEG devices and AI to objectively measure the psychoactive effects of cannabis.

Zentrela was founded in 2016 by Israel Gasperin when he combined his fascination with brainwave analysis and his business observation that every facet of the exploding cannabis sector was going to need access to objective product effect data.

Israel was joined by Dr. Dan Bosnyak, a neuroscientist at McMaster University, and together they established the foundations of Zentrela, a neurotechnology pioneer using AI to analyze EEG data in pursuit of the world’s largest database of cannabis psychoactive effects.

We had a chance to interview Israel. Read on to learn more about Zentrela’s neurotechnology and how it’s shaping cannabis research.

 


 

Ganjly: Can you explain the core technology behind the Cognalyzer® and how it objectively measures the psychoactive effects of cannabis?

Israel Gasperin: The Cognalyzer® consists of 2 main components. The first is a wearable EEG device that allows product developers, researchers, scientists, and health professionals to record the EEG (also known as brainwaves) of consumers. The second component is our AI that analyzes EEG data to determine if a person is experiencing cannabis’ psychoactive effects in an objective, accurate, and quantifiable way.

 

Ganjly: What were the key challenges in developing a commercially viable brainwave analysis solution, and how did Zentrela overcome them?

Israel Gasperin: The biggest challenge was to map the brain (EEG) when it’s experiencing cannabis’ psychoactive effects to train AI models to detect and quantify such a mental state regardless of the profile of the subject.

To accomplish this, in 2018 we received the support of the Ontario Government (Ontario Brain Institute and Ontario Centre of Innovation) to start a massive IRB-approved human trial with many hundreds of research participations. Thanks to this effort, we developed the first Cognalyzer® AI for cannabis’ psychoactive effects.

Then, the second biggest challenge was to scientifically prove that our AI is the most accurate, objective, and commercially viable (time and cost-effective) for several uses like in police stations, R&D labs, universities, or any other research organization that lacks the expertise, neurology, and neuroscience to conduct such EEG analysis.

To accomplish this validation, we contracted a clinical research organization to independently conduct another controlled trial to confirm the performance of our AI-based EEG analysis. The results were unprecedented, and since then, in 2021, we have taken our EEG offering to the North American market.

Publications:

 

Ganjly: How does the Cognalyzer® compare to traditional methods of cannabis effect research in terms of accuracy, cost, and time efficiency?

Israel Gasperin: I will break down my response into two parts because our offering is disruptive in 2 ways.

First, the Cognalyzer®, as a research tool, is the only solution that can objectively determine if a person is under the influence of cannabis’ psychoactive effects, and it does this in a standardized, objective, and quantifiable way. Other research tools like questionnaires are very subjective and unreliable.

On the other hand, body fluid analysis (saliva, urine, blood, breath tests) only measures the concentration levels of THC, and not its impact on the brain and mental state of consumers. Last, but not least, existing EEG solutions are great for neurologists and neuroscientists, but not useful outside of clinical settings. They’re complicated to use, it takes several months to analyze the EEG data and in the end, nobody else but Zentrela has a proven method for objectively measuring the impact of cannabis on the brain.

Second, the Cognalyzer® creates new ways of conducting human trials. Clinical trials are great for therapeutic research, and our technology can be incorporated into this type of research. However, for the non-therapeutic cannabis effect research market, clinical trials are simply unaffordable and extremely slow. With our portable non-invasive EEG device and our unique AI, we’ve created a standard protocol to conduct observational or controlled trials at a speed never seen before.

Rather than taking 18 months, we have completed studies within 3 months. Making viable this type of cannabis effect research will transform the core operations of cannabis companies.

Now they have the opportunity to equip their labs with our wearable EEG device and follow our IRB-approved and GDPR-compliant research protocols to test the efficacy of new formulations, objectively determine which one is the best, and based on that evidence, to market and differentiate their products. Our partners, including other brands in North America, have done this and the ROI is proven: it minimizes product development risks and maximizes the full sales potential of products.

 

Ganjly: With the recent launch of Cognalyzer® in the European Union, what specific markets or applications are you targeting first?

Israel Gasperin: The Cognalyzer® can be used in several ways:

To prove the efficacy of new products. For example, product developers are using our wearable EEG device to objectively quantify the efficacy of 3 versions of a new formula to determine which one is the most effective. Also, they’re benchmarking their products vs others for differentiation purposes, to make their products the preferred choice.

To find the optimal dose of a product for specific consumer profiles. Other product innovators and researchers use our technology and research model to objectively quantify how consumers respond to a specific product and a dose. This allows them to find the “optimal” dose of a specific product to deliver an intended benefit while minimizing or avoiding unpleasant effects.

To study the relationship between impaired driving AND levels of cannabis’s psychoactive effects. For example, the Cognalyzer® could be used to measure the psychoactive effect level that a driver is experiencing AND link this to their driving performance. The results of this study would allow researchers and regulators to better determine cannabis-impaired driving at police stations within ~15 minutes rather than 45+ minutes following subjective and body fluid assessments.

To study the relationship between cannabis’s psychoactive effect levels and other human factors. As an example, the Psychiatry Department of CHUM, a research hospital in Montreal, is using the Cognalyzer® AI-based EEG analysis to objectively quantify the psychoactive effect level of study subjects. This is with the objective of studying the genetic profile of study subjects that experienced low, medium, and high levels of psychoactive effects. This is a very novel study that will generate new insights about genetic profiles that potentially determine how consumers/patients may react to cannabis.

 

Ganjly: How does Zentrela ensure the privacy and security of the EEG data collected, especially concerning GDPR compliance in the EU?

The safety, privacy, confidentiality, and other aspects of our protocols are above the GDPR standards, they meet good clinical practices and they have been reviewed and approved by multiple independent ethics research boards and Health Canada. This is a great point to highlight because when a lab adopts our wearable EEG technology, we also implement our IRB-approved and GDPR-compliant research protocol to immediately activate cannabis effect research activity!

 

Ganjly: Can you discuss some of the independent scientific validations that the Cognalyzer® has undergone and their significance for the technology’s credibility?

Israel Gasperin: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33826089/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34727345/

 

Ganjly: What potential do you see for Cognalyzer® beyond cannabis research, particularly in the fields of mental health and wellness?

Israel Gasperin: The Cognalyzer® AI has the capabilities of detecting and quantifying mental states, and “Cannabis’ psychoactivity” is only one of them. In the last 4 years, we’ve been quietly mapping more EEG / mental states that will soon allow us to deploy more AI solutions that quantify anxiety, depression, pain, and more. The implications of this are global and impact the entire wellness and health markets. Our vision is to help any wellness, health, pharma, psychoactive, or psychedelic company to study the efficacy of their solutions on patients. All this with the purpose of helping humanity live a happier, healthier, and more responsible life.

 

Ganjly: How do you envision the integration of Cognalyzer® into clinical settings, such as hospitals or mental health clinics, to assist in treatment plans for conditions like anxiety and depression?

Israel Gasperin: For example, health professionals could use our technology to objectively quantify the anxiety level of patients before and after treating it with a specific drug or therapy, and reliably determine the efficacy of such an approach.

 

Ganjly: What feedback have you received from licensed cannabis companies and research institutions that have integrated the Cognalyzer® into their studies over the past three years?

Israel Gasperin: Cultivators use it to objectively quantify the psychoactive effect potency of different strains to more reliably and credibly prove their efficacy (We know that the % of THC is not reliable)

  • Product innovators love having the ability to objectively quantify cannabis effects to prove the efficacy of their innovative formulations.
  • They also love to complete studies with ~2 products within 3 months, rather than 18 months.
  • Drug delivery companies like it to generate complementary objective evidence about the efficacy of their solutions. Some of them are designed for fast and strong effects. Others are created for slow and long-lasting effects.
  • Researchers who have previously worked with EEG technology love the fact that our wearable device is easy to put on and comfortable to wear for many hours, BUT most importantly, they like that we can provide clean raw EEG data and an AI-based analysis within a week or two rather than 4 months or more.

 

Ganjly: Looking ahead, what are Zentrela’s plans for further innovation and expansion in the field of AI neurotechnology, and how do you see the company evolving in the next five years?

Israel Gasperin: By 2030 we envision having developed a full library of peer-reviewed AI solutions for EEG analysis that will objectively quantify several mental states related to psychoactive and psychedelic substances, alcohol effects, anxiety, depression, pain, and more.


Thank you so much, Israel for taking the time to do the interview. We appreciate it!

To learn more about Israel Gasperin, head on over to Zentrela.com.

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