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McLean Hospital and GrayMatters Health Awarded a BIRD Foundation Grant to Develop a Digital Therapy for Major Depression Disorder with Anhedonia Symptoms

Represents the first attempt to deliver a mental health therapy for depression based on a biological marker as adjunct to standard of care

HAIFA, Israel, July 29, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — GrayMatters Health, a digital therapeutics start-up company, announced that the BIRD Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation awarded a grant to McLean Hospital and the company to develop a novel solution for the therapy of Major Depression Disorder (MDD).

Based on GrayMatters’ patented fMRI-to-EEG machine-learning platform, Prism, the treatment will enable individuals with MDD who do not have the ability to feel pleasure—also known as anhedonia— to learn how to control and modulate their reward system – ‘positive valance system’.

The McLean team will be led by Diego Pizzagalli, PhD, director of the Center for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Research, and Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer, chief of division of Depression and Anxiety, Co-Director (Multi-PI) of the SPARED Conte Center, and Director of the Neurobiology of Fear Laboratory.

“We are excited about this collaboration with GrayMatters Health and we are grateful to the BIRD Foundation for their support that will allow McLean and GrayMatters Health to advance our work together to develop innovative approaches to effectively treat depression,” said Scott L. Rauch, MD, McLean president and psychiatrist-in-chief commented.

Pizzagalli, who also serves as the director of the McLean Imagine Center and the Laboratory for Translational and Affective Neuroscience, noted that reduced activation within the brain reward system, a set of regions critically implicated in motivation and the experience of pleasure, has been repeatedly demonstrated in major depression. “Unfortunately, the current gold standard for the treatment of depression does not appropriately address this abnormality, which has been linked to ongoing functional impairments,” said Pizzagalli. “Our proposal to use neurofeedback targeting the brain reward system could fill an important unmet need and offer a truly novel way to treat depression.”

Talma Hendler, MD, professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at Tel Aviv University and director of the Sagol Brain Institute at the TASMC, and the technology’s inventor, also commented, “The project will allow the validation of the technology on a large group of diagnosed MDD patients with anhedonia, a specific disturbance of the positive valence system. Anhedonia is present in 70% of MDD patients and is especially resistant to antidepressant treatments prescribed today”. She explained, “The underlying scientific assumption is that MDD patients with anhedonia suffer from poor recruitment of the reward system and therefore training them to upregulate it via Prism could enhance their ability to enjoy and approach desired life goals.”

Oded Kraft, co-founder and CEO of GrayMatters concluded, “This project will enable us to expand our indications from PTSD to depression. We are thrilled to do so together with the extraordinary team at McLean Hospital, and are thankful to the BIRD Foundation for their support which will enable us to advance innovation in mental health therapy.”

About Major Depression Disorder (MDD)

Major Depression Disorder (MDD) affects 264 million of the world population every year and has a devastating impact on the lives of people living with MDD and their families. For many patients, available treatments are ineffective (up to 50%), resulting in huge social and economic costs, and increased suicide rates.

About McLean Hospital

McLean Hospital is the primary psychiatric teaching facility of Harvard Medical School, and has the largest neuroscience, psychiatric and behavioral health research program of any private psychiatric hospital in the United States. McLean offers extensive services for children, adults and the elderly with clinical expertise in a broad range of behavioral and psychiatric illnesses, including schizophrenia, mood disorders, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, personality disorders, anxiety and stress disorders, substance use disorders, and others. In addition, McLean Hospital provides postgraduate education for a wide range of mental health care professionals.

About GrayMatters Health

GrayMatters Health Ltd., based in Haifa, Israel, is developing innovative neuroscience-based digital therapeutics for mental health disorders. The company’s Prism platform operates by affecting the underlying mental processes using patented fMRI-to-EEG machine-learning models. Prism-for-PTSD, Gray Matter’s first product, is an investigational device undergoing clinical studies, and Prism-for-MDD will be the company’s second product, expanding its offering to patients suffering from major depression. GrayMatters was founded by three experienced entrepreneurs, Oded Kraft, Rani Cohen and Shai Attia.

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Oded Kraft

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