The Future of Medicine Podcast: Episode 1 - Adrien Châtillon CEO & Co-Founder of Actipulse Neuroscience
Last week, our CEO and Co-Founder of Predictiv, Alex Rochegude interviewed fellow entrepreneur, Adrien Chatillon, CEO and Co-Founder of Actipulse Neuroscience.
Last week, our CEO and Co-Founder of Predictiv, Alex Rochegude interviewed fellow entrepreneur Adrien Chatillon, CEO and Co-Founder of Actipulse Neuroscience.
Alex: Hi everyone and welcome to The Future of Medicine. In this podcast, we explore how technology and science are shaping the medicine of the future, from genomics to wearable devices, artificial intelligence to at home diagnoses and treatment. Our guest will share how they foresee the future and how they contribute it.
Today, I have the pleasure to have Adrien Chatillon with me. Adrien is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and cofounder of Actipulse Neuroscience, a medical company specialized in noninvasive brain stimulation therapeutics for the treatment of major depressive disorder. And that is also under clinical trials for Alzheimer's Disease and post-trauma rehabilitation. Actipulse has already treated more than 11,000-patients in the past two years for major depressive disorders and has an objective of reaching 100,000 patients by 2025. Actipulse Neuroscience was founded in 2017 and has offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Mexico City, and Santiago de Chile.
Adrien, welcome to the Future of Medicine. Can you tell us more about you and Actipulse Neuroscience?
Adrien: Alex, thanks for having me. Yes, like you are, I’m also French. And I co-founded Actipulse almost five years ago with the goal of helping people suffering from psychiatric disorders. As you know, this mental health issues, the brain issues are expanding as something more people and more people that need treatment. And drug treatment just doesn’t cut it. We need another line of treatment, that's where neuromodulation comes in, and that’s where Actipulse comes in.
Alex: Can you tell me more about the solution itself? What is it? What does it do? What stage are you targeting?
Adrien: At Actipulse, we are specializing in a technique called noninvasive brain neuromodulation. We have two stages. The first stage is in revenue stage, which is a major depressive disease. We already have on market this device to treat MDD patients. On clinical trials, or clinical research side, we're studying this same technique to try to find a solution for cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson's. Brain neuromodulation is kind of a tree, and you have no different ramifications. We're specialized in one called noninvasive brain stimulation, using high frequency and low intensity magnetic pulses that you have in a hospital setting. It is called transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS. This technique has been approved for the past almost 20-years now by the FDA to treat patients suffering from depression that are resistant to medication, which is 4 patients out of 10.
When this design of treatment of medication doesn't work, patients go to the second line of treatment, which is neuromodulation. Brain neuromodulation works very well, around 70% of patients, but it is still a very expensive treatment. Just in the U.S. alone, it costs around $15,000 to get treatments, so that it limits the impact of the therapy. And it's also very cumbersome to use because you need to go every day to the hospital. One session is only 45 minutes, but you need around 30 sessions. So, if you add a commute to that, you're wasting around 2-hours per day to go to the hospital for your treatment. I know a lot of people who want to go with this treatment. Our goal, as a company, specifically for major depressive disorder is to bring this incredible treatment from the hospital directly to the home of the patient. In order for that, they may have a more cost effective treatment, lower cost of treatment. We also remove the need to go to the hospital every day. That's the goal of the company.
Alex: That sounds pretty exciting. So, you remove all that friction and all that burden to go to hospitals. Basically, let’s say that someone suffers from Parkinson, Alzheimer or some other depressive disorders. They go to their physicians, to hospitals that are using your solution, that are recommending your solution, and the patient receives it from the hospital. They will get your device which looks like a helmet, right? And instead of coming back 30 times or 40 times, they can just do it from home? How do the physicians make the follow up and make sure that the treatment is followed?
Adrien: So, that will be in the future. Currently, going from the hospital to the home of the patient, is a technological and clinical challenge. Our goal for us was, instead of going straight to the patient’s home, to have a first intermediate step. Instead of going directly to the hospitals, we needed to go to the small physician practices, the small psychiatric offices and your next door physician. That is our first goal. Instead of having that bigger device, we now have a middle size device. And instead of physician/psychiatric paying $250,000 for it, now they only need to pay $15,000 for the device. That obviously has had a strong impact on how many more patients we could treat, because we have around 210-devices on market. Not just in hospitals, but also in small practices. And we reduced the cost of treatment from $15,000 to $2,000. There is still the problem that patients still need to go to the physician. That’s why the next step would be for the home device.
For the home device, we just pre-submitted our application to the FDA, and we will start that clinical trial by the first quarter of next year. Hopefully by 2023, we will have the approval to go directly to the home of the patients. Meanwhile, we will keep treating patients at small physician’s practices until we can get approval to treat them from home.
Whereas for Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, that's still under clinical investigation. And while you can reach remission for psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression, there's no treatment for Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. What we are trying to do is to test clinically if we can slow down the disease. That would be the major first step.
Alex: Which would be an important step already!
Adrien: Huge step!
Alex: So, you're bringing the devices that are usually in large hospitals because you need a lot of equipment, you bring it to the smaller practices around the corner. So, you sell your solution to those smaller practices and clinics, right?
Adrien: Exactly. Our clients are not the major hospitals but smaller physicians, psychiatrists, and very small mental health clinics, which have a stronger geographic reach on the market than just big hospitals.
Alex: And today, as you talk about the geographical reach, is it only in the U.S. or do you provide that solution also in other countries?
Adrien: Currently, we are in our testing phase. We are only presently available in Mexico and Chile, that's where we are treating our patients. That is where we are getting the clinical data and our first clients are testing our business model as well. That's why the next step for the U.S. will be directly to the home of the patient. We will skip that intermediate phase of going to the psychiatrist’s office, it will go directly to the home of the patients.
Alex: Well, that's really good. So, if I'm a patient today and if I suffer from one of those diseases that you cover, how can I benefit from it?
Adrien: What will happen is a patient will go through the first set of treatment, which will be pharmacological for cost effectiveness reasons. And since 4 out of 10 patients do not respond to pharmacological treatment, if the patient doesn't respond to drug treatment, he or she will go to the second line of treatment which will be neuromodulation. Today in the U.S., they can only go to major clinics or hospitals to get the neuromodulation. That's why there's a need, especially as we prove to bring the treatment to the home. As people beforehand, they thought that they could only be working if they go to the office, now they know they can work from home. Well, it’s the same thing with COVID, it has shown people that you don’t really need to go to the hospital, you can also be treated from home. And I think that is where medicine and psychiatric treatment is heading towards.
Alex: The company was founded in 2017. You have treated more than 11,000 patients. And I guess it includes a lot of clinical trials. How are you funded? Who are your investors? Because I guess it does require a lot of money.
Adrien: This is a very good question! When we talked to a fellow health techs and medical entrepreneurs, some of them spend more time searching for money than searching for clinical answers. When we co-founded the company, we didn't want to do that. Because there's a fundamental ethical question running a medical company, right? If you have expensive startup cost, expensive clinical research cost, expensive manufacturing costs, at the end of the process, you will have an expensive therapeutic data medical device or a drug. And there's an ethical question there because if it is expensive, maybe some patients will not be able to access your treatment. And I found I’m running a medical company. It’s not a Fintech. And our goal, even though we are not a non-profit, we're a company, our goal here is to treat the many, not just the few. And I think this comes from a French upbringing, that thankfully back home healthcare is available to everybody, to the many, not just the few. And I think that’s the goal and the ethical reason why we wanted to do this starting in Mexico. This is why our clinical trials and manufacturing is done in Mexico. Because this way, we know that first of all, our patients will be able to access our therapeutics, our treatments at an affordable price. And second of all, we keep the control of the company. So, right now, we are treating so many patients, we have our own 2-million dollars balance in revenue, and we have limited spendings, while doing a lot of things. We are about to start our latest clinical trial. We never raised a big series, or a big round, because while we were talking to some investors, especially in the U.S., their main question was, how can you make more money? Whereas I think the right question is, how can we treat more patients? That's the question. And they always asked, how is Actipulse going to become a $1 billion company? And I always told them, no, the question should be how is Actipulse going to be come a 1-billion patient company? I think we should focus first on the patient and then the money will come from everybody to do research, for the funding team, and for our investors. So, that’s why I like to call Actipulse a high growth, low cost medical company.
Alex: I saw that you also started in equity in the Republic. What are your objectives with that campaign? And what are your plans with the money you will raise?
Adrien: I find it very fascinating and I think it is in line with us. We want to democratize access to mental health care. And Republic wants to democratize access to investors. I think we share that same vision of democratizing and being there for the people. So, when we got the offer with Republic, I thought it was a great idea. And even though I would like to keep control of my life at the company, as a medical entrepreneur, those type of FDA clinical trials cost money. You need to open up your equity. I think it was a good idea to start with Republic. The goal for this funding will be for our clinical pipeline. First for the FDA trial, and the rest for other diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and post-rehabilitation patients. Last year, we finished randomized control and double blank clinical trial for Alzheimer’s Disease and technology. Unfortunately, COVID had an impact on recruitment and on the final results. So, we are launching a second public trial in the next year. All the money we are getting right now will be just for our clinical pipeline, which is at the end of the day the publications, as the IP is what is the real value of the company.
Alex: You have a solution that enables, or will enable, patients to receive treatment from home instead of going to hospital. Is it how you envision the future of medicine and healthcare? Do you think that most patients will be able to be diagnosed, followed up, and treated from the comfort of their home? Is this the way you see it?
Adrien: I think it is. It's a very broad question. But if I bring it to neurological and psychiatric universe, I think that's the future. We see it now with COVID, right? A lot of psychiatrists didn't want to do any tele-consultations. They said, no, I need to see my patient, right? But when COVID came and they really couldn’t, for medical and legal reasons, see any patients, they opened up tele-health consulting. And they really like it! Psychologists, psychiatrists, and also patients really like it.
There will obviously still be physicians’ offices. We know some patients want to go to the physician. What you would call the white blouse effect. Just by the fact that you're going to the physician, you already feel better. So, that's important. And some patients like to go there, so that will still continue. But I think treatment, especially like neuromodulation treatment and following up treatment, that will be done from home. Because sometimes when you go to the psychiatrist, the psychiatrist will tell you, hey, come back in a month to see how you're doing. Sometimes there is not really a point of going to the psychiatrist just to tell him or her that you are feeling better or you are feeling worse. This could be done with telehealth, and also wearable devices and other things that have been studied for the future.
Alex: What do you think hospitals and clinics will become if there are way less patients going there?
Adrien: Well, you will not do a surgery in your house by yourself, so there will be some medical things that will be done by hospitals. I think hospitals will adapt to this new trend style, using more technology, using more telehealth. And I think that it will also be good for hospitals, because sometimes there are so many patients, and it gets overcrowded whereas things could be done virtually. I don’t know if you know the concept of dark kitchens, these restaurants that don’t have any tables or anything? They just have a kitchen, and they deliver meals. Maybe we can think about dark hospitals, dark clinics. They are just virtual clinics, everything is online, and for specific cases they can send you some devices that could be used from home to follow the patient. That would prevent the patient’s need to go to the clinic because, also for society, going to the hospital or the clinic, has a cost. It’s expensive!
Alex: Well, thanks a lot. I think you really have an amazing solution and can really help a lot of people. I hope everyone will soon be able to benefit from it. Best of luck for your clinical trials. And, of course, for your equity campaign on Republic. Adrein, thanks a lot for your time, for sharing your vision of medicine and healthcare. And thank you everyone for joining this podcast on The Future of Medicine and see you next week.
To learn more about Actipulse Neuroscience, visit https://actipulseneuroscience.com/
To learn more about Predictiv, visit www.predictiv.care