PureTech Health spin-outs Akili and Sonde Health announce new international patents

By Laura Lovett
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This week has spurred some major patent announcements from digital health companies Akili Interactive and Sonde Health, which are both affiliated with PureTech Health, a cross disciplinary biopharma company. The two companies announced they have been granted the rights to multiple international digital health patents. Akili revealed they are developing a technology aimed at using neural stimulation to treat cognitive dysfunction and Sonde went public with a patent that uses speech to measure vocal biomarkers for physical or psychological conditions. 

“As a part of PureTech’s mission, we are developing new categories of medicine to improve the lives of patients,” said Eric Elenko, chief research and strategy officer at PureTech Health. “These patents recognize the strength of our leadership, innovation, and IP position in digital medicine and also validate our novel approaches to diagnosing and treating serious and devastating medical conditions.”

The new technology, which was created by Akili Interactive and the University of California San Francisco, aims to use digital health to treat cognitive dysfunction. The patent technology will deliver a range of stimuli, which is designed to target specific networks in the brain. The patents for this technology were filed in both the US and Japan. 

“These new patents, along with several other patent applications currently under review worldwide, recognize the strength of Akili’s innovation and our novel approach to assessing and treating cognitive dysfunction present across a number of medical conditions,” Eddie Martucci, Akili’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Equally important, these patents demonstrate that the active technology components of a new digital medicine can be protected just as you would a novel pharmaceutical, which we believe is essential for the advancement of the field toward becoming mainstream medicine.”

According to the patent filed at the US patent office, the technology is for "enhancing cognition in the presence of distraction and/or interruption" and uses a method where a participant is given a task to perform, and is then either interrupted or distracted from that task and told to continue with it. By analyzing the user's ability to perform these tasks and giving them feedback, the technology aims to improve cognition and slow cognitive decline.

The technology was invented by Dr. Adam Gazzaley, founding director of Neuroscape at UCSF and Akili’s chief science advisor. The patents were issued to the University of California but Akili has exclusive rights to the technology worldwide.  

This most recent announcement outlines how the company is making moves towards expand its portfolio of patents and intellectual property that target the activation of neural systems to treat disease associated with cognitive dysfunction. The technology will specifically target the neural networks in the prefrontal cortex, which is one of the main sections in the brain that control cognitive function, according to the statement.

Akili has been involved with creating tools to help cognitive function for some time. In December the company announced that it was preparing its Evo ADHD Treatment, a video game-based tool to help children and adolescents with ADHD, to be submitted to the FDA. This came after the company announced that the game had positive results in a large clinical trial. The company is also working on tools to help treat depression and multiple sclerosis. 

Meanwhile, Sonde Health’s is developing a voice-based technology that aims to monitor and diagnose mental and physical conditions. The patent was issued in both the US and Australia. The Australian patent covers the use of vocal biomarker technology to detect physical and psychological conditions, according to a statement. 

The company said this technology could help detect conditions like depression, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. The propriety technology has already been tested on more than 3,000 people.

“These newly issued patents represent, to the best of our knowledge, the only coverage for unique classes of vocal biomarkers that demonstrate enhanced vocal analysis performance and accurate assessment of a broad range of physical and psychological conditions,” Jim Harper, chief operating officer of Sonde, said in a statement. “Issuance of these patents further strengthens our leading intellectual property portfolio in the emerging field of acoustic voice analysis and validates our novel technology platform for the assessment and detection of various medical conditions.”

This patents were issued to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which Sonde has been working with for a couple of years.  But the digital health startup has exclusive licensing agreements for the patent.