May 6, 2020

Palo Alto company Limbix grabs $9M to develop a digital therapeutic for teens with depression


Digital mental health company Limbix scored $9 million in Series A funding. The new round was led by GSR Ventures with participation from sequoia Capital, Storm Ventures, NexGen Venture Partners and BIXINK Therapeutics. 

This comes roughly four months after the Palo Alto-based startup was selected as one of 27 digital health companies in MassChallenge HealthTech’s 2020 accelerator class.

WHAT IT DOES 

The company is focused on creating a digital mental health tool for teens. It works both through a mobile app and virtual reality. Its flagship product, Limbix Spark, is designed as five-week program that delivers cognitive behavioral therapy through both a smartphone and a VR headset.

“Unfortunately, there is a very long wait list right now to see a mental health professional. So there need to be other options to increase access to care,” Limbix research director Jessica Lake told MobiHealthNews at the MassChallenge’s HealthTech Open Night in January. “So right now, we are focused on … a product for depression. It is a mobile and virtual reality-based product that we are building. We think virtual reality could be a really interesting way to increase [adherence] to treatment.”

Currently the VR component is optional, and the treatment can be delivered solely though the phone. However, the company is looking at the tech to drive engagement in the future.

“We think VR can be a way to get people engaged and more immersed in treatment and coming back to treatment so they can drive those benefits,” Lake said.

Eventually the plan is to go through the FDA regulation process and offer this as a prescription digital therapeutic. 

WHAT IT’S FOR 

The new money will go towards developing the product and testing it. 

“In the coming years we’ll be running more trials on Limbix Spark, forming commercialization partnerships, and working towards FDA clearance on Limbix Spark as a Class II medical device. Having GSR Ventures’ guidance along this path is incredibly helpful for our business,” Ben Lewis, CEO and cofounder of Limbix, said in a statement. 

MARKET SNAPSHOT 

We are seeing a rise in interest in prescription digital therapeutic companies. In 2017 it landed a de novo for its digital therapeutic reSETwhich treats substance abuse disorders. This designation made it the first software-only digital therapeutic for the FDA to clear with claims of improved clinical outcomes. 

Late last month the FDA loosened up its regulations for digital psychiatric disorders devices during the coronavirus crisis. This led to multiple digital therapeutics coming onto the market early. 

For example, Akili has fast-tracked and released its approval-pending digital therapeutic, Endeavor, for children with ADHD. Pear also released its schizophrenia treatment for limited distribution. 

THE LARGER TREND 

“We are thrilled to partner with such a passionate team working to improve mental health treatment for those who need it most. The Limbix team focuses on rigorous clinical data, and their combination of strong medical, research, and technology backgrounds make them uniquely positioned to succeed,” Justin Norden, partner at GSR Ventures, said in a statement. 

 



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