According to the World Health Organisation, 25% of Europeans suffer from depression each year, while suicide is the leading cause of death for men between the ages of 20 and 49 in England and Wales.
Malmö-based Flow Neuroscience has created a medication-free, at-home treatment for depression, comprised of a portable brain stimulation headset and therapy app. We recently featured Flow as one of 10 European startups revolutionizing mental health.
After launching in the UK and Sweden last month, Flow has now raised €1.3 million in a round led by Khosla Ventures, which it will use to support its European rollout, introduce Flow to healthcare clinics, and fund clinical studies.
People diagnosed with depression often have lower neural activity in their left frontal lobe, the part of the brain controlling important cognitive skills including emotional expression. The Flow headset uses transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a form of neurostimulation that delivers constant, low direct current via electrodes on the head to stimulate and rebalance neural activity in this area. In a recent clinical study of tDCS, 41% of patients showed a 50% reduction or more in their depression symptoms. The effects are similar to anti-depressants, however Flow’s neurostimulation therapy has fewer and less severe side effects.
“We’re increasing treatment choice and empowering people to self-manage their symptoms at home with an effective, personalized and non-pharmacological alternative,” said Daniel Mansson, a clinical psychologist and co-founder of Flow. “This has the potential to improve the standard of care, and reduce global healthcare costs. The Khosla Ventures investment will support the next stage of our journey as we cement our position as European leaders of brain stimulation treatment for depression.”
The brain stimulation headset is used in combination with a therapy app, which educates users with videos about depression and advice on how to reduce symptoms using the latest expert knowledge from the fields of sleep, nutrition, fitness, and meditation.
The Flow headset is being sold for £399, and links to a therapy app available on iOS.
Flow is starting talks with the NHS to have its brain stimulation headset available through prescription. And this year, Flow will be working with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to seek regulatory clearance in the country.
“We are very happy to be supporting Flow Neuroscience in this effort to bring a new medication-free treatment for depression into the market,” said Alexander Morgan, MD PhD, Principal at Khosla Ventures. “The research on tDCS shows efficacy similar to pharmacological treatment with antidepressants, and the Flow team worked hard to show safety, which earned them approval for sale in Europe as a Class IIa medical device. The technology combines portable hardware and software, and we believe this offers an exciting and scalable solution for potentially hundreds of millions of people living with depression globally, empowering patients directly with new options for treatment.”