EmoSys develops mini-electropatch for mood disorders

february 21, 2019

No fewer than 600 million people suffer from depression. Worldwide statistics show that the personal misery and socio-economic consequences of this are shocking. Based at the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus, EmoSys is working on an accessible alternative to antidepressants.

Happy, sad, defeated or surprised; your face tells other people how you’re feeling. The opposite can also be true. The now-proven physical feedback hypothesis has taught us that our facial expressions also affect our emotions. Does this mean that we are automatically more cheerful when we laugh? And if this is the case, does this apply even if that laughter isn’t real or spontaneous, but is externally activated and stimulated instead? “Yes and yes,” Mehrdad Seirafi claims. The EmoSys physicist, neuroscientist and entrepreneur ended up in Maastricht by way of India, Japan, Rome and Brussels.

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At the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus, start-up EmoSys is developing an innovative, neuroscience-based wearable solution for the treatment of mood disorders. This method is designed to make the treatment of mood disorders easier and more affordable than the use of traditional methods. “The wearable device that we have developed looks like a small electropatch which patients apply to their cheek before they go to bed,” Mehrdad Seirafi explains. “The device produces electrical impulses that stimulate the nerves that are involved in smiling and laughing. These nerves then pass on this electrical stimulation to the parts of the brain that are involved in the regulation of emotions. When you’re happy, these parts of the brain send the signal to the motor system and this ensures that you laugh. EmoSys wearables go back to the source of the emotions. Patients using our device should be able to notice changes in their moods within two weeks.”

Test phase

Compared with the pharmacological interventions used to treat depression, the wearable product designed by EmoSys does not have any known side effects. However, like every medical device, it requires years of testing. The EmoSys wearables are currently undergoing safety tests. “We are waiting for approval from the ethics committee so that we can start clinical testing on the device,” Seirafi says. “At the same time, we are also looking for the financial resources to start our tests. If we find the financing fast enough, we expect to be able to launch the product on the market in three years.” EmoSys plans to launch the wearables on the market as a supplement to antidepressants and psychotherapy.

Target group

EmoSys expects that its mood-improving wearables will help more than just the people who are already in treatment for depression in the healthcare sector. “There is a phenomenon known as subclinical depression where many people have depression-related problems and go to the doctor, but they don’t fulfill the criteria for depression because they don’t display enough symptoms for the diagnosis and treatment. The doctor usually tells them to wait and come back in another month, or even six months. The number of people experiencing this is very high; there are four times as many people with subclinical depression as people officially being diagnosed with depression. People suffering from subclinical depression naturally try to solve their problems themselves, and this often includes alcohol, drugs or other ways. These people represent our largest target group of patients.”

Morning blues

Mehrdad Seirafi hopes to be able to “go to market” in three years. His vision of the future: “Everyone that applies the EmoSys patch to their cheek every night for three weeks will feel better, sleep well and suffer less from the dreaded morning blues when they get up in the morning. This extra boost can help people escape the downward spiral of depression, without the need for antidepressants or therapy. The patch will be available in drug stores all over the world, particularly in India and China. It will be sold without a prescription, without additional therapy, but it will obviously contain clear instructions for use.”

(Source: this article is an edited version of a recent article from Innovation Origins, an independent news platform and Brightlands partner: www.innovationorigins.com and of EmoSys information which has been published previously via Brightlands.)

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