Innovate UK grant backs research into digital depression treatment

P1vital Products (PPL) has, in partnership with Canterbury and Coastal CCG, University of Kent, and the mental health charity MIND, been awarded £815,500 by Innovate UK to advance research to improve the treatment of depression.

The funding will enable a real-world evaluation of novel digital technology developed by PPL as part of a re-design of service provision for depression to make care more responsive and tailored to patient needs.

Jonathan Kingslake, CEO at PPL, said: “This funding from Innovate UK will enable us to take our software, which we have seen perform well in structured research studies, and put it into the hands of real-world clinicians as they go about performing their daily clinical duties. We will have the opportunity to evaluate the performance and value of the technology, as part of a new and more comprehensive care pathway for patients with depression. This is an important step towards making our technology available to more people with mood disorders across the UK and abroad.”

Nationally, over a million people are seeking or receiving treatment for depression at any one time. The new ‘walk-in’ service will provide access to a range of healthcare professionals with specialist training and supported by PPL’s innovative digital technology.

PPL conducts research into developing software products that improve the treatment of mental health conditions. Its flagship digital health system, i-spero, provides a comprehensive online tool for the management of depression, including a personalised prediction of antidepressant response and ongoing symptom monitoring.

Using the i-spero system, users are provided with personalised predictions, guided by a machine-learning algorithm, which can give an early indication if a treatment is not working. This can help doctors, working with their patients, to more quickly identify an effective treatment plan. Symptom monitoring can help patients be aware of and manage ongoing shifts in their mood, foster more effective communication with clinical teams, and enable more effective preventative measures if there is an indication of relapse.

Professor Guy Goodwin, chief medical officer at P1vital and senior research fellow at the University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry, said: “Under current care approaches, patients experiencing depression can receive care in a piecemeal fashion with antidepressants prescribed in a trial-and-error process that can take many months to resolve. The technology embedded in the i-spero system has the potential to accelerate the process of identifying effective treatments, and provides clinicians with the tools they need to provide more integrated care, ultimately helping patients get better faster and then stay well.”


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