Tal Medical Develop Innovative Device For Rapid Treatment Of Depression


Depression is one of the most common and serious mental health disorders, affecting more than 350 million people worldwide. In the US alone, over 270 million antidepressant prescriptions are filled annually, generating more than $9 billion in sales. Although there are several treatment options available, a substantial unmet need remains. While approved antidepressant therapies prove effective for many, they take several weeks to produce response. In addition, many only respond partially or experience significant adverse events. As a result, depression is the leading cause of disability and suicide worldwide.

More than 10 years ago, a type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to routinely scan people with bipolar disorder to observe the effects of an experimental drug on their brain chemistry. However, to the research team’s big surprise, they found that the scans themselves had an immediate positive effect on the patients’ depression. Based on these findings, the Boston-based startup Tal Medical was founded to develop a version of MRI called low field magnetic stimulation to treat severe depression.

Data from a proof-of-concept randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial in patients with major depressive and bipolar disorders showed promising results. In the study, a single 20-minute treatment demonstrated rapid onset of action, substantial effect size, and a strong safety profile. After proving the technology’s unique, rapid effect, the National Institute of Mental Health selected it for a multi-site clinical trial, examining the efficacy and durability over an extended period of time in patients with major depressive disorder.
 
Low field magnetic stimulation prototype and coinventor Mike Rohan of McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA. Credit: Tal Medical
Low field magnetic stimulation prototype and coinventor
Mike Rohan of McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA.
Credit: Tal Medical
The innovative, noninvasive, neuromodulation technology target a large unmet need. The time delay of response of current treatment options can lead to tragic outcomes, including severe disability and suicide. A therapy that acts quickly would not only improve quality of life for millions, but could potentially save people at risk of suicide. However, fewer than half of those affected by depression receive effective treatment, in many countries fewer than 10 percent, with major barriers including lack of resources. Sadly, low field magnetic stimulation will most likely not expand the access of effective care.
 
Tal Medical raised $14 million in 2015 and they later announced the enrollment of the first subject in the durability study. The randomized, placebo-controlled dosing study will be conducted in 120 patients across multiple sites in the US, with data expected in early 2017. The company was founded by PureTech, who participated in last year’s financing along with new undisclosed institutional and individual investors. They hope to have the device on the market in 2018.