On February 26th, 2020 we wrote “By many metrics, life on earth has never been this good. Technological, economic, and political progress have led to ever-increasing supply of water, food, energy, and shelter, improving peace and reducing poverty. Yet for the first time in history, more people die each year from suicide than war, murder, and natural disasters, combined. Suicide is just one of the many tragic consequences of what has broadly been referred to as the “mental health crisis” — a world in which our minds fail to navigate our life circumstances effectively.” Little did we know that within a few months, humanity would slide into a global economic crisis, with social and political structures trembling across the globe as a novel coronavirus pulverized an ever-increasing number of businesses and jobs.
If mental disorders were projected to cost $16 trillion globally by 2030 before COVID-19, one can only imagine how that timeline will accelerate once we account for the collective fear, stress, panic, worry, uncertainty, death, isolation, and trauma caused by this pandemic. Nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Researchers have created models — based on data collected after natural disasters, terrorist attacks and economic downturns — that show a likely increase in suicides, overdose deaths and substance use disorders. How can we prevent the much larger and costlier mental health pandemic?
Unfortunately, today’s clinical approaches to treating mental health disorders range from psychotherapy to pharmaceuticals, psychosocial interventions, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and transmagnetic cranial stimulation (TMS) are either unsafe, unaffordable, inaccessible, ineffective, or some combination of the four. To compound this issue, the lack of a safe and effective treatment makes mental health unprofitable for insurers and thus more expensive for those in need. But what if there was a safe and effective treatment that was insurable and convenient?
Enter Inner Cosmos.
Led by the former CEO of Meta, Meron Gribetz, (TED talk for background, co-inventor of first commercially available, and highest rated augmented reality glasses) and world renowned neurosurgeon Eric Leuthardt (co-inventor of second most widely used neurotechnology — ECoG for Parkinsons and Epilepsy, TEDxGatewayArch), Inner Cosmos has invented the world’s first “digital pill”. This device is a penny-sized brain chip that gradually rebalances brain networks using precise, minimally invasive electrical activity, instead of brute-force chemicals — thereby aiming to upgrade the pharmaceutical industry.
Unlike non-invasive EEGs, like Muse and Kernel, or the fully invasive approach of Neuralink, Inner Cosmos is a minimally invasive device similar in risk to LASIK and taking 15 minutes to embed in an outpatient procedure. For all of these reasons, this device represents a brand new minimally invasive class of Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs), one that can not only address all neurological Mood Disorders, but also provide a real-time dashboard (think Apple watch) for the mind.
As with all disruptive technologies, this transformation will take time and require an intelligent go-to-market strategy. This is why Inner Cosmos initially targets the ~$14b market for antidepressants (expected to grow to $28b this year). Through accurate sensing and controlled stimulation of the prefrontal cortex, Inner Cosmos aims to offer 2-4x higher efficacy, without the adverse side effects of drugs.
We’re excited to join Meron, Eric, and the Inner Cosmos team as they embark on one of the most ambitious missions on the planet on their journey into our barely chartered inner cosmos!