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New RPM Partnership Aims to Test Mental Health Treatments at Home

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   December 16, 2021

A partnership between a telehealth company specializing in mental healthcare and a biotech company will use remote patient monitoring to monitor patients with mental healthcare needs and develop new treatments for them.

Two digital health companies are launching an ambitious remote patient monitoring program aimed at monitoring people with mental health concerns at home and developing new medications to help treat them.

Cerebral, a telehealth company focused on mental health services, is partnering with biotech company Alto Neurosciences on a “precision psychiatry” program that aims to improve how medications and other treatments are tested and developed for patients. The two plan to launch a series of home-based clinical trials next year that use telehealth and mHealth tools to monitor participants, then tailor new medications or treatments based on the data they receive.

“Our goal is to identify who is responsive to our investigational medicines to move quickly towards registration supportive studies,” Adam Savitz, MD, PhD, chief medical officer of Los Altos, CA-based Alto Neuroscience, said in a press release. “Ultimately, this accelerates our ability to develop targeted medicines more efficiently and help patients get better faster. This partnership represents the beginning of upending the nature of mental health clinical trials moving forward as we work to better serve a greater breadth of patients at an unprecedented speed.”

“Delivering accessible, cutting-edge care is of utmost importance to us and we’re proud to offer our members at-home access to clinical research,” added David Mou, MD, MBA, chief medical officer of San Francisco-based Cerebral. “Working to match each member with the right medication for their unique biology is completely novel in psychiatry, and if successful, this precision approach will completely disrupt the current treatment paradigm in mental healthcare. As one of the largest mental health providers in the world, we look forward to bridging the gap between innovative drug discovery and commercial scalability in order to help millions suffering from mental illnesses.”

The partnership takes advantage of the fast-growing RPM field, which healthcare organizations and companies have been embracing over the past few years in a bid to shift both healthcare and research out of the hospital, clinic and lab and into the home. The platform allows organizations to treat patients where they are and access a larger, decentralized pool of people for clinical tests.

Officials say the programs will enroll 200 to 300 participants from Cerebral’s network and use a mobile electroencephalography (EEG)) device to measure brain activity, as well as other wearables to monitor cognitive and emotional functions, sleep and activity and genetics. Virtual visits will also be scheduled with the participants before and after the trials.

The first trial, slated to begin in January 2022, will focus on people who have failed at least one prior treatment for major depressive disorder and will focus on the ALTO-300 drug developed by Alto Neurosciences. Subsequent studies will focus on other treatments and mental health concerns, such as PTSD.

“In addition to the brain biomarker evaluations, patients will also be assessed on clinical outcomes, such as depression or PTSD scales, to evaluate the overall improvements,” officials said in the joint press release. “Alto will leverage their analytical approach to predicting patient outcomes to determine whether a certain biomarker best identifies patients who are most likely to benefit from the drug candidate being evaluated. The results from these studies are expected to inform the design and implementation of studies that will potentially support FDA approval of novel psychiatric medications and companion biomarker diagnostics.”


Eric Wicklund is the Innovation and Technology Editor for HealthLeaders.

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