Akili, University of California's new licensing agreement marries physical activity with digital cognitive dysfunction therapy

The new digital therapeutic is being developed at a UCSF, and will join Akili Interactive Labs' pipeline of other video game-based therapeutics.
By Dave Muoio
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Digital therapeutics maker Akili Interactive Labs today announced a deal with the University of California’s governing board concerning exclusive licensing of a new technology that will combine the company’s focus on neural systems with physical activity.

Developed at the Neuroscape Lab at UCSF, the tech follows in the footsteps of Akili’s other efforts in that it is primarily delivered through a video game interface. By employing an additional motion-capture interface, however, it challenges users to maintain cognitive control while performing physical movements that are accounted for in game.

"The cognitive benefits of physical activity have been understood for many years. The ability to generate those benefits through technology that directly engages brain networks associated with cognitive control is extremely exciting,” Adam Gazzaley, founder and executive director of the Neuroscape Lab at UCSF, cofounder of Akili Interactive Labs and Jazz Venture Partners, said in a statement. "I’m eager to see where Akili’s team of researchers and game creators take this important technology."

According to the announcement, the technology is currently being evaluated in multiple clinical trials. Akili said that it believes this dual-faceted approach could expand its capacity to provide cognitive dysfunction treatment to patients with a range of conditions.

“We're extremely excited about the new platform technologies we’re just beginning to explore,” Jason Trees, Research and Development Program Lead for Akili, told MobiHealthNews in an email statement. “This technology represents the type of transformational invention that contemplates new ways to combine a wide array of inputs (targeting multiple physiological systems) toward maximizing therapeutic benefit.  What we've been developing is only the beginning, and as technology rapidly evolves to allow us to target and activate the brain in a ways that no traditional medicine can, we are committed to continually push the boundaries of what is possible.”

While Akili’s pipeline includes a number of neurology and psychiatry-focused digital therapeutics, its lead product is AKL-T01, also known as Project: Evo ADHD Treatment. This therapeutic delivers sensory stimuli affecting specific neural circuitry as users navigate an alien avatar down a course by tilting a mobile device back and forth. In December, Akili announced positive results from the largest clinical trial of AKL-T01, and are using these data to support the its ongoing bid for FDA clearance.

Earlier this month, Akili added an extra $13 million to a prior $55 million Series C round, bringing the company’s total funding to just over $140 million.