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Akili gets $30.5 million investment for 'digital medicine' games

Developer is seeking to treat ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, depression, Alzheimer's, and traumatic brain injury with apps.

Games-for-health startup Akili has secured a $30.5 million investment for the development of apps to treat ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, depression, Alzheimer's, and trauamtic brain injury. 

The company calls its games "digital medicine" and will use the money to fund further development of its apps and seek potential approval from the U.S.' Food and Drug Administration with a view toward a 2017 launch of its "digital medicine platform."

The company has partnered with drug company Pfizer on its Alzheimer's app.

"Particularly in pediatric populations, we see a significant demand for non-pharmacological options," said co-founder and CEO Eddie Martucci, in a statement. Its ADHD game, Project: EVO, is the furthest along.

"The qualities of a good video game, things that hook you... could be a perfect vessel for actually delivering medicine," Akili's executive creative director Matt Omernick told NPR last year. 

The space has pitfalls, though: after Stanford neuroscientists raised $32.5 million for their startup Lumosity, the company ended up being fined $2 million by the Federal Trade Commission because its brain-games were judged to not live up to the advertisements. 

Akili will be under more scrutiny at the get-go, as it positions its games as "digital medicine" and seeks FDA approval to distribute them in a therapeutical context. Lumosity's games are widely available on major mobile app stores. 

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