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4 July, 2019 - 13:18 By Tony Quested

Mental Health under the microscope in Cambridge

Nigel Pitchford

Cambridge’s global pre-eminence in creating digital techniques to combat mental illness will be showcased at the next Business Weekly-Mills & Reeve Life Science Forum on July 24.

The CEOs and key motivators behind digital health innovators Ieso Digital Health and Psyomics will unveil their stories to an invited audience at Mills & Reeve’s showcase Cambridge HQ.

Nigel Pitchford, CEO at Ieso  Digital Health, will be joined by the company’s chief scientific officer Dr Andy Blackwell to lift the hood on the technology proposition and plans for international expansion. The company was named Business of the Year at the Business Weekly Awards in March.

Exciting startup Psyomics will be represented by CEO Dan Cowell – formerly with Horizon Discovery in Cambridge – and co-founder Professor Sabine Bahn.

Ieso Digital Health delivers one-to-one, clinically led online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for people dealing with common mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. 

Therapy is delivered through written (typed) conversation. Patients meet with a BABCP accredited therapist in a secure online therapy room at a time and location convenient to the patient.

Ieso aligns with health policy, using technology to bridge the gap between physical and mental ill health. We offer evidence-based psychological interventions to increase access, improve waiting times, optimise cost savings and achieve excellent performance outcomes using data-driven quality control.

Facilitating access to psychological therapies has been identified as a key area for improvement in the NHS. Ieso can help services to meet access rates set in the NHS Five Year Forward View by increasing access, efficiency, and patient choice using an evidence-based, data-driven approach.

With Ieso, services can increase access to evidence-based mental health treatment without jeopardising the quality of care provided to patients. The company is cornering the market in the UK and Europe and is set to take the US by storm.

Cambridge University spin-out Psyomics is addressing the market with a different platform. Approximately one in four people in the UK experience mental health concerns each year. While advances in mental health research are being made, there remain significant barriers to effective detection, treatment and prevention.

Psyomics is looking to overcome these barriers by combining digital approaches with developments in biomarker technology to benefit those facing mental health challenges. 

The tools currently in development are targeted for both clinical and workplace settings, specifically designed to combat the respective mental health-related challenges faced within these environments. 

Dan Cowell says: “In the future, we plan to expand our reach to provide personalised solutions for the wider community.”

Psyomics has been in stealth since foundation in 2015 by Professor Sabine Bahn, who has dedicated more than 20 years of research to identifying differential biomarkers of mental health symptoms. The company’s work is funded and supported by Cambridge Enterprise and a Horizon 2020 grant from the European Commission. 

In addition, Psyomics won an innovation contest with IC Tomorrow and AXA PPP to look at mental health awareness and prevention in the workplace, and won the Problem Solution category of the AXA PPP Health Tech & You Awards. 

It has also been awarded a grant from the Technology Strategy Board to further develop its proposition for differentiating bipolar disorder from depression.

Professor Bahn has serious international credentials in the field. She previously founded Psynova Neureotech, along with Cambridge University dontrepreneur Professor Chris Lowe, which was a subsidiary of Rules-Based Medicine – acquired for $80 million by Nasdaq-quoted Myriad Genetics Inc in 2011.

James Fry, who is steering the Life Science Forum initiative for Mills & Reeve, said: “We are seeing a boom in Cambridge in the digital health space. There are so many exciting and disruptive technologies coming on stream which are making real and positive differences to patients’ lives. 

“At this forum, which we are delighted to once again be running in conjunction with Business Weekly, we will be showcasing two Cambridge businesses which are using novel digital techniques to improve care for those suffering mental health concerns.”

For further details about the event visit the Mills & Reeve website.

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