Akili raises $55M to bring video game ADHD treatment to market

Akili Interactive has raised $55 million to bring its prescription video game treatment for ADHD to market. The Temasek-led series C round comes five months after Akili posted positive data from a pivotal clinical trial of its digital medicine.

The trial partly validated Akili’s belief it can improve outcomes in ADHD and other conditions through video games designed to act on neural systems. Participants randomized to play the therapeutic game, AKL-T01, for four weeks performed better on a score of attention than those who played a nontherapeutic control game. 

Misses against secondary endpoints weakened the dataset somewhat, but Akili has still persuaded some notable investors to bankroll its plans. In addition to national wealth fund Temasek, Akili raised money from Baillie Gifford and the VC wings of Amgen and Merck KGaA.

The money gives Akili the means to bring AKL-T01 to market. Akili is set to file for clearance from the FDA in the coming months, beyond which it plans to promote the game as a standalone treatment for kids and adolescents with ADHD. If the filing is successful, AKL-T01 will become Akili’s first commercial product and the first prescription digital treatment for pediatric ADHD.

Akili’s anticipated firsts come at a time when the wider digital medicine space is starting to take off. Last year, Pear Therapeutics got the regulatory green light to sell its substance-use disorder mobile app in the U.S., leading to R&D and commercial pacts with Novartis and its Sandoz division.

RELATED: Novartis partners with Pear on digital therapeutics

Pear, which makes support apps, not games, and Akili are coming at the idea of improving health outcomes through digital means from different angles. But they are targeting some of the same diseases, notably multiple sclerosis. Pear is working with Novartis on a multiple sclerosis app, while a game aimed at the indication is one of Akili’s pipeline prospects.

Akili will use some of its series C money to take its treatment of cognitive dysfunction in MS through a pilot clinical trial. The company is also running more advanced trials of treatments for children with autism spectrum disorders and adults with depression.