Wysa, a popular mental health app originally founded in India around an AI chatbot that helps users talk through their feelings, has raised $20 million in a Series B funding round to expand its business on the heels of hitting 4.5 million users in 65 countries.
The all-equity round is led by India’s digital health-focused venture capital fund HealthQuad, with participation also from British International Investment (BII), the U.K.’s development finance institution. The plan will be to use the money to double down on its home market as well as the U.S. and U.K, where it already has respectively had approvals from the FDA and the National Health Service (NHS) and is used by the latter as part of its online mental health services. [Read more…] about Artificial Intelligence (AI) meets Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Wysa raises $20M to scale up mental health chatbot
AI Behavior Health Chatbot App Fast-Tracked by FDA (Psychology Today):
Recently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted breakthrough device designation to Wysa’s AI-based digital mental health conversational agent that delivers cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) via a smartphone to adults suffering from depression, anxiety, and chronic musculoskeletal pain [Read more…] about AI-enabled chatbot Wysa receives FDA Breakthrough Device designation for patients with chronic pain, depression and anxiety
Digital health firm Pear goes public, raising $175 million (pharmaforum):
Pear will make its debut on the exchange today after combining with Thimble Point – a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) – in a deal that sidestepped the conventional initial public offering (IPO) route and has propelled its valuation to around $1.6 billion … Pear specialises in prescription digital therapeutics (DTx) based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques that can delivered remotely to [patients via a digital device. It has three apps approved by the FDA, including reSET and reSET‑O for people living with substance and opioid use disorders, respectively, and a tool for chronic insomniacs called Somryst. [Read more…] about Pear Therapeutics raises $175M and goes public via SPAC deal raising the profile of prescription digital therapeutics
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring this time eight scientific reports and industry resources plus a few fun brain teasers.
“Girls who spent less than an hour on screens and boys who spent less than 90 minutes on screens were not negatively impacted by it. But at higher amounts of screen time, their life satisfaction dropped significantly—they were less happy with their lives, and it got worse the more time they spent … (the) study also found that teens who got more regular exercise had greater life satisfaction and fewer physical complaints for both genders. Not only that, the effects were largely unrelated to how much time a teen spent on screens, so that if teens exercised more, it could potentially undo the damage to their well-being that went along with even six or eight hours of screen time.”
‘Obesity and depression are both major global health challenges, and our study provides the most robust evidence to date that higher BMI causes depression,’ said lead author Jess O’Loughlin. ‘Understanding whether physical or social factors are responsible for this relationship can help inform effective strategies to improve mental health and wellbeing.’
Let’s hope! — “I think Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) will continue to be adapted for more problems, diagnoses, and conditions. We will train many kinds of caregivers, teachers, front-line workers, police, and even politicians.”
“We discovered that the most predictive model – representing the most common mode of city navigation – was not the quickest path, but instead one that tried to minimize the angle between the direction a person is moving and the line from the person to their destination … Evolution is a story of trade-offs, not optimizations, and the cognitive load of calculating a perfect path rather than relying on the simpler pointing method might not be worth a few saved minutes. After all, early humans had to preserve brain power for dodging stampeding elephants, just like people today might need to focus on avoiding aggressive SUVs.”
“Designed with the help of Dutch academic Isabela Granic … the game is centred around an avatar who stays in bed for the day and aims to relax players by using soothing music, muted colours and self-care practices. Think meditative tasks such as word games and guided breathing exercises. There’s no way to win, compete or binge – in fact, it deliberately starts to feel boring after a few minutes of play, which disincentivizes mindless scrolling. #SelfCare was an instant hit, garnering half a million downloads in its first six weeks without any advertising…”
“What made this proof-of-principle trial successful was the discovery of a neural biomarker – a specific pattern of brain activity that indicates the onset of symptoms – and the team’s ability to customize a new DBS device to respond only when it recognizes that pattern. The device then stimulates a different area of the brain circuit, creating on-demand, immediate therapy that is unique to both the patient’s brain and the neural circuit causing her illness.”
“After initially indicating that Aduhelm could be prescribed to anyone with dementia, the Food and Drug Administration now specifies that the prescription drug be given to individuals with mild cognitive impairment or early-stage Alzheimer’s, the groups in which the medication was studied.
Yet this narrower recommendation raises questions. What does a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment mean? Is Aduhelm appropriate for all people with mild cognitive impairment, or only some? And who should decide which patients qualify for treatment: dementia specialists or primary care physicians?”
“With data breaches on the rise, the FTC is looking to make health apps more accountable for telling patients when their data has been exposed.”
Wishing you and yours a sweet Halloween and a healthy month of November,
The SharpBrains Team
We are seeing a number of fascinating meta-analyses comparing the value of A) face-to-face vs. Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapies and B) guided vs unguided internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy, especially in the case of depression.
Here you have a couple great examples, suggesting a growing adoption in the near future of web-based, and increasingly personalized, interventions. [Read more…] about Growing research points to expanding adoption of online cognitive behavioral therapies, both guided and unguided
Covid-19 Pandemic Drives Patients—and Deal Makers—to Telemedicine (The Wall Street Journal):
The coronavirus pandemic has put the once-niche category of telemedicine in the spotlight and is now driving a flurry of deal activity involving virtual health-care providers … Patients have embraced virtual care as a way to stay in touch with doctors for urgent care or chronic care management without risking exposure to the coronavirus by visiting medical offices. Telemedicine visits are typically conducted between a doctor and patient using videoconferencing or a phone call and are used to address minor ailments like colds as well as management of chronic conditions like diabetes. [Read more…] about Debate: How and when will the telemedicine surge reach mental healthcare?