Startup turns to 'video game' medical tech to address brain-based disorders
- Akili Interactive Labs is developing video games as a non-pharmacological option for treating central nervous system (CNS) disorders, such as ADHD and autism spectrum disorder. The company recently secured $30.5 million in equity investments to support clinical development of its products.
- Akili's lead product is Project: EVO, a mobile software treatment platform designed to enhance cognitive interference processing, initially for children with ADHD. The company exclusively licensed the technology for EVO from a University of California, San Francisco lab run by Dr. Adam Gazzaley.
- According to figures cited by FT, the worldwide market for cognitive assessment and training is currently valued at $2.4 billion, with expectations for three-fold growth by 2020.
Akili's clinically focused approach differs from that of consumer oriented "brain-training" apps and games, most notably Lumos Labs' Lumosity game. Akili plans to use its recent $30.5 million cash infusion to fund a randomized, controlled pivotal study to establish the safety and efficacy of Project: EVO as a medical treatment.
Results from the trial are expected by 2017, and Akili is positioning itself for a commercial launch later that year. An earlier pilot study of Project: Evo demonstrated improved attention and working memory in children with ADHD.
As researchers learn more about how to combine interactive medical technology with a growing base of knowledge about CNS disorders (such as ADHD or Alzheimer's disease), non-pharmacological medical technologies are receiving more attention, even from big pharma. Shire has invested in Akili and Pfizer is working on Alzheimer's research with the company, according to FT.
These devices have mostly been used for medical research to date, but companies like Akili are hoping mobile video games will eventually be part of medical diagnostics in the clinical setting.
- Financial Times Pharma companies looking at using video games for healthcare