South Korean startup raises $4.2M to trial VR therapy for brain damage, vision loss

A South Korean startup has raised 5 billion won, or about $4.2 million, to develop and test its software-based treatments for neurological disorders—after launching the first digital therapeutics clinical trial in the country. 

Seoul-based Nunaps plans to build out its platform while evaluating its first product, Nunap Vision, which provides perception training using a virtual reality headset to help treat visual field defects caused by brain damage, such as from strokes.

"Nunaps is Korea's first digital therapeutics company and has great potential to become a global top-tier, setting up clinical trials for new digital therapeutics that employs AI technologies to address neurological disorders," said Kang-Soo Lee, chief information officer of Company K Partners, which backed Nunaps’ series A round alongside KTB Network and K2 Investment Partners.

About 1 in 5 people who have had a stroke also suffer from some kind of vision impairment, including the loss of part of their field of view. Nunap Vision is based on the theory that certain visual stimuli are still transmitted to different areas of the brain even with vision impairments and that repeated training can help develop new visual pathways, according to the company.

Regarding patients with visual field defects, "They have had no effective treatment until now," said Nunaps founder and CEO Dong-Wha Kang, professor of neurology at Asan Medical Center in Seoul. "In our efforts to treat patients with unmet needs, we naturally came up with digital."

The rest of the company includes neurologists, engineers and perceptual psychologists as well as artificial intelligence scientists and software and game developers.