The MedTech Finn startup Sooma raises 1.2 million euros with its system for a non-pharmacological therapy for the treatment of depression. The investors are Kustaa Piha, CEO of Athensmed and Italian Angels for Growth (one of the most active Italian business angel networks), which participates with 520,000 euros and has chosen Michele Marzola and Carlo Brunetti as co-champion of the operation.
“Depression is the dark evil of this century – says Marzola, one of the IAG network investors, to Startupbusiness – it affects 300 million patients around the world of which 30% refuse drugs because of the consequences related to them, the world market for antidepressants is worth 14 billion dollars and especially psychotropic drugs do not work at first glance and solve only 2/3 of cases. The drugs then do not heal, they can soothe and calm the symptoms and until now the only alternative is electroshock, which is used only for extreme situations but is not socially presentable”.
Sooma’s innovation fits into this context with a medical device that, using a current stream that creates deep stimulation in the brain and improves neural activation. “This new depression treatment – continues Marzola – not only soothes but is also able to heal from depression and above all is very simple to use because unlike other technologies that require sophisticated machinery that can only be used in hospitals with high costs, it consists of two electrodes that must be placed in the front of the skull and that pass a very low current, 2 milli-ampere, and that can be used at any time and in any place.
The device, already approved by the regulatory bodies of the European Union and Canada and pending approval by the U.S., provides for a use that is divided into sessions of 20 minutes a day for 20 days and leads, in many cases to the solution of the problem. “The tests that have been done tell us that out of 330 patients treated 20% healed completely, 70% improved considerably and only 10% did not differ from the initial situation.
The entire treatment has a total cost of about 500 euros and the effectiveness of this solution is beginning to affect even the hospitals, Sooma has recently closed an agreement with a Finnish hospital worth over one million euros.
“This method can also be used in the future for the management of deep pain, for the treatment of addictions, for sleep problems, for post-infarction and post-stroke recovery. We decided to invest because we like to know that this solution brings rapid benefits to one of the major problems in the world. Our network of angels has been always investing in initiatives that aim to help solve many medical problems: cancer, heart, orthopaedic and we would like to continue on this path also on the front of neurodegenerative diseases” ends Marzola.
IAG has been advised by the Neuroscience School of Advanced Studies (NSAS), one of the most important research centres on the subject worldwide, based in Venice on the island of San Servolo. The goal now is to gain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and bring the Sooma device in all major markets in the world.
The development plan provides for a very strong growth, another round will be made shortly to have further momentum in marketing and give Sooma, which has its headquarters in Finland and which has also received a grant of 250 thousand euros from Business Finland, the opportunity to bring the benefit of its technological solution to those suffering from depression around the world.
The company, founded in 2013 and led by Tuomas Neuvonen, CEO and co-founder, has always worked in close collaboration with experts in psychiatry and neurology and has an advisory board with doctors who are experts in these diseases.