Japanese VR company to assist with clinical trials for depression therapy

Image courtesy of Jolly Good

Jolly Good — a Japanese technology startup company that develops VR solutions and AI engines — and the National Center for Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Research (NCCBTR) in Japan have announced that they have entered into a clinical trial collaboration agreement directed toward the development of digital health solutions.

Under the agreement, Jolly Good will develop and commercialize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) VR in Japan and certain other overseas markets for patients with depression. Before the collaboration agreement, Jolly Good applied for its “VR Diagnostic treatment system” patent in Japan on February 26, 2020.

The purpose of CBT is to relieve symptoms and prevent recurrence of depression in mood, physical responses, etc., caused by stress through strengthening patient self-control by applying theories and behavior modification techniques of cognitive behavioral science.

The NCCBTR is Japan’s first training and research center specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The center conducts its activities at The National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry’s headquarters and a satellite office in Tokyo. The center implements the nation’s leading-edge research and training related to cognitive behavioral therapy.

In the trial, the two partners will provide CBT focusing on positive-valence system using VR toward patients with moderate to higher depression. In addition, they will test the safeness and effectiveness of the VR therapeutics. The hypothesis is that by exposing patients under virtual reality related to positive-valence, it will decrease the suppression of activity making the patient available to find positive-valence in real-life situations as well. This will improve the symptoms of depressions, especially anhedonia. This research will prevent severe depression and decrease the number of hospitalized patients. In other words, the partners want to promote the use of VR and AI technology for effective treatment of depression that does not rely on drugs.

Mental disorder is considered as one of the five major diseases in Japan. Among them, especially depression has a large percentage (1.27 million patients), and the annual economic cost of depression totals up to 3.09 trillion yen.

Recently, Jolly Good installed a high-definition 360-degree VR camera in the operating room at the Nippon Medical School Hospital, and developed the “OpeCloud VR ” system that simultaneously performs VR live distribution and data storage in the cloud.