A new startup out of South Korea has unveiled a new treatment for depression.
It involves a wearable headband that applies electrical currents to the brain, giving hope to those who suffer from depression by providing a new type of treatment that does not try to lessen symptoms, but rather cure depression itself.
The headband is now being tested by the Harvard School of Medicine with hopes for FDA approval in the near future.
The startup is called Ybrain, located in Daejeon, South Korea. They have been funded with millions of dollars in support of this new technology, and continue to receive funding for future endeavors along these same lines. The headband goes by the name of Mindd, and comes from the same startup that also developed a very promising treatment for Alzheimer’s in 2015.
Founded by three friends from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Ybrain created the Mindd headband as a way to use modern-day technology to fight the ever-growing epidemic of depression and suicide. South Korea reports extremely high numbers of suicide as a result of depression, with approximately 38 people committing suicide every single day. The United States reports almost 45,000 deaths by suicide every year, which translates to about 41 acts of suicide per day.
As depression becomes more commonly recognized as a serious illness, treatments are becoming more sought after. The Mindd headband is an extremely lightweight, wearable object that attaches around the forehead. It weighs in at only 150 grams and stimulates the frontal lobe with small electrical currents. The method is known as transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS. Inactivity of the frontal lobe is linked to depression, so these electrical currents work to stimulate this part of the brain otherwise left dormant. While users may experience a slight tingling sensation while the device works its magic, there have been no reported side effects thus far.
“I think that mental illnesses in general have always lacked good solutions compared to other diseases. Moreover, countless people are suffering from depression every day, yet few seek medical treatment,” said Ybrain’s founding CEO Lee Ki-won. “With our device, we hope to contribute to solving this problem by offering patients the option to treat depression from the comfort of their home.”
Ybrain currently hopes to implement the use of the Mindd headband in 150 hospitals by the end of this year, with plans to see the device receive FDA approval by 2019. The headband is currently undergoing clinical trials at the Harvard School of Medicine, utilizing the technology on 500 participants and collecting data to further establish the effectiveness and need for the wearable device.
“Though we’ve begun by deploying our device at only hospitals for now, our broader goal is to help anyone with depression easily receive treatment from home and to eventually raise depression treatment rates around the world,” Lee told reporters.