Video game neuro therapy company Akili Interactive raises $30M+

Project: Evo game--Courtesy of Akili Interactive

Med tech's tentacles continue to extend to new arenas, as evidenced by the $30.5 million funding round for Akili Interactive, which is developing a video game-based platforms for treating ADHD and other neurological conditions in hopes of a product launch in 2017.

Achieving that milestone will require successful (and costly) FDA clinical trials. The Boston-based company says it is running clinical trials for games to treat pediatric ADHD, autism (in collaboration with Autism Speaks), depression, Alzheimer's disease (in collaboration with Pfizer) and traumatic brain injury.

Its lead candidate, dubbed Project: Evo, helped reduce ADHD among 40 children with the condition. The children performed better on the Test of Variable of Attention and Spatial Working Memory test, according to a prior release. A product launch by year end 2017 is possible, following initiation and completion of a large randomized controlled pivotal trial.

"The need for safe and effective treatment of cognitive disorders, including ADHD and autism, continues to grow, and new modalities are needed for millions of patients. Particularly in pediatric populations, we see a significant demand for non-pharmacological options," said Akili CEO and co-founder Eddie Martucci, in a statement. "We're excited that, with the support of our new and existing investors, we can continue to advance our adaptive software platform towards clinical validation and commercialization as a fundamentally new type of mainstream medicine."

The candidate targets cognitive interference processing. The game's level of difficulty is automatically adjusted in real time, Akili says.

JAZZ Venture Partners, Canepa Advanced Healthcare Fund and Akili holding company PureTech are the named investors in the release announcing the financing.

"We're seeing the emergence of an entirely new category of non-pharmacological therapies, and Akili is leading the charge. We love their ability to target some of the most under-served patient populations and disrupt massive markets at the same time," said John Spinale, former senior vice president of social games at Disney and partner at JAZZ," said in a statement.

Other companies are trying to harness "gamification" as well. Israel's Intendu last year touted the launch of the Functional Brain Trainer to rehabilitate patients suffering from cognitive impairment using adaptive video games.

- read the release