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Virtuleap partners with Roche to tackle Dementia

Neuroscientist, Victòria Brugada-Ramentol, representing Virtuleap as one of four winners

Virtuleap has been selected as one of four companies to pilot its virtual reality-based cognitive assessment and training platform as part of the ‘Building Together Tomorrow’ program, the latest initiative by Roche to promote solutions that help improve the quality of life of people with dementia and their caregivers.

The partnership is the latest in a string of deals struck by pharmaceutical companies with VR startups that are addressing mental health disorders and illnesses as a digital therapeutic or DTx. Most notable is last October in which Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma inked an agreement with BehaVR valued at up to $140 million in milestone payments.

“The intersection of pharma and virtual reality is arguably the most potent and lucrative due to the fact that VR’s superpower is that it hijacks the whole body into believing the experience is real,” said Amir Bozorgzadeh, Virtuleap’s chief executive officer.

“VR literally tricks the autonomic nervous system, vestibular balance system, and our proprioception into perceiving the simulated realities as authentic, which enables a range of therapeutic use cases to arise in which an immersive solution can serve either as a companion tool that pair with pharma treatments, or otherwise serves as a standalone digital therapeutic in its own right.”

The clinical protocol will be implemented by Roche’s partner hospital group, Lusíadas, which will run the Enhance VR library of 15 immersive cognitive games for a duration of 5-months as a remote cognitive monitoring tool deployed directly in patients’ homes. A key component to the study will be in applying Virtuleap’s ‘Remote Control’ telehealth tool, which enables caregivers to remote navigate through the entire VR application using their tablet, smartphone, or laptop.

“Our partners made us aware very early on for the need to make available a suite of administrative tools that aid them in deploying VR solutions seamlessly,” said Hossein Jalali, Virtuleap’s CTO. “The Remote Control tool allows for real-time remote navigation while our Survey Engine enables questionnaires to be run pre and post sessions. We consider both tools to be essential for clinical studies, as well as health economic studies.”

At the end of the pilot, Roche and its healthcare partners will evaluate the results and the prospect of implementing the technologies permanently as part of healthcare systems in order to better address the needs of an ever increasing aging population in which the onset of cognitive decline-related disorders and illnesses are growing in proportion.

Unlocking neuroscience with virtual reality

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Amir Bozorgzadeh

Amir Bozorgzadeh

Market researcher, tech writer, and social impact entrepreneur taking brain training to the next level thanks to virtual reality.

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