VR and AI tech specialist, Jolly Good, is partnering with Otsuka Pharmaceutical to develop a mental health treatment program that uses pharmacological and psychotherapeutic techniques.
The two companies will software based on Otsuka’s expertise in developing neurological therapeutics and hosted on Jolly Good’s VR goggles and connected tablet devices. The techniques used for the same take a social skills training (SST) approach to treating mental illness. SST is a behavioral therapy that can help patients with anxiety, mood, and personality disorders, among other conditions.
The jointly developed program will target schizophrenia patients. The companies believe that the immersive features within Jolly Good’s VR setup will make the SST therapy more engaging and effective than conventional methods.
Otsuka will offer 300 million Japanese yen or about $2.6 million as upfront payments to Jolly Good. The Tokyo-based pharma will also reimburse the tech developer for development and marketing costs to healthcare facilities. The whole deal could hold a potential value of 5 billion yen or about $43.6 million.
Ayako Kanie, M.D., Ph.D., a psychiatrist who recently got on board with Jolly Good as a senior medical supervisor, will oversee the development of the new program.
“Currently, there is a serious shortage of people who have the social skill training and other attributes necessary to provide ‘psychosocial therapy,’” Kanie said. “Our VR content development benefits from extensive involvement by psychiatrists in product design and aims to improve on and expand opportunities to provide psychosocial therapy according to medical theory. VR enables patients to practice in a nearly real environment and will prepare them for success in real-life situations.”
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