Belfast’s Neurovalens gets funding to trial anxiety and PTSD treatments

2 Dec 2021

Neurovalens co-founder and CEO Dr Jason McKeown. Image: Neurovalens

Neurovalens said the R&D grant of £225,000 will fund new clinical trials.

Medtech start-up Neurovalens has secured clinical trial funding to develop new treatments for anxiety disorders.

The Belfast-based company uses medical devices to deliver low-level electrical stimulation to deep parts of the brain in a non-invasive way, with the aim of curing or treating neurological conditions without the need for implanted electrodes.

Invest NI has offered Neurovalens a research and development grant of £225,000, which will fund clinical trials to establish the safety and efficacy of its technology when used as a treatment for generalised anxiety disorder, insomnia and PTSD.

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health disorders across the world and affect around 20pc of the US population, according to Neurovalens CEO Dr Jason McKeown.

“We believe that offering much earlier, non-invasive intervention could be really transformative for someone who is struggling with their mental health,” he added.

Neurovalens, which shares its headquarters between Belfast and San Diego, was established in 2015 and aims to combine neuroscience and technology to tackle global health challenges.

It raised £4.6m in a Series A round of funding in 2019. Last year it raised a further £5.1m in funding from UK and Irish investors, which was used to expand existing clinical trials, fund new trials and apply its technology to treat a wider range of conditions.

Neurovalens CFO Niall Quinn said the company sees potential in expanding its technology into crucial areas of mental health.

“Our primary focus is to achieve reimbursement status for all our medical devices within the US healthcare market in order to provide patients with the devices through their healthcare insurance. This allows us to accelerate our FDA approval plans and move to the next stage of commercialisation,” Quinn added.

The new trials will involve collaboration between research facilities in Ulster University, Coleraine and the University of California’s San Diego campus.

Invest NI’s director of innovation, research and development, Dr Vicky Kell, said: “It’s great to see another NI company recognise the value of investing in research and development to support competitiveness, job creation and export-led growth.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic