Arcade Therapeutics and UT Austin Jointly Announce a $3.8M NIMH Grant to Fund Large Clinical Trial Testing the Efficacy of ABM-02, The First Game-Based Digital Therapeutic for Major Depressive Disorder

The R01 Grant from the National Institute of Health, consisting of $3.8M in funding to UT Austin’s Institute for Mental Health Research, was recently approved with a kickoff date of September 1st

NEW YORK, July 26, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Arcade Therapeutics, a leading developer of game-based therapies for mental health, and University of Texas Austin’s Institute for Mental Health Research, a leading research center in the field of depression, jointly announced the closing of a $3.8M grant from the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) to support clinical investigation and validation of ABM-02 as a game-based treatment for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

Specifically, the funds will be used to support UT Austin’s large confirmatory efficacy trial assessing Arcade’s proprietary, game-based approach to the cognitive training technique Attention Bias Modification (ABM) in comparison to traditional ABM and a gold-standard ABM placebo sham. The study will assess 600 participants suffering from depression across these three, randomly-assigned arms, and will be the largest and most rigorous test of ABM for depression ever completed.

Arcade intends to use findings from this ambitious clinical study to support their FDA submission of ABM-02 as the first game-based treatment for Major Depressive Disorder. This news follows the recent success of a clinical trial investigating Arcade’s flagship therapeutic game, StarStarter Rx (aka ABM-01) as the first game-based treatment for the most prevalent anxiety condition, Social Anxiety Disorder.

Christopher Beevers PhD, Wayne H. Holtzman Regents Chair in Psychology, Professor, and Director of UT Austin’s Institute for Mental Health Research, will be the Principal Investigator of the remotely administered trial. Dr. Beevers commented, “We’ve known for decades that the tendency to focus too much on sad or dysphoric information drives and exacerbates symptoms of MDD. Game-based ABM has the potential to effectively reduce this tendency, and thus MDD symptom severity, while also being highly accessible, scalable, and engaging to its users as a non-pharmacologic treatment option.”

Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer of Arcade Therapeutics, Tracy Dennis-Tiwary PhD added, “Only half of those suffering from depression seek and receive treatment. Along with accessibility, one of the biggest barriers to receiving mental health treatment is stigma. By taking a clinically validated, game-based approach, ABM-02 not only radically improves accessibility, but reduces the stigma of seeking treatment for mental illness and meets patients where they are.”


Arcade Therapeutics is a science-first game studio dedicated to treating mental illness by combining the most cutting edge cognitive neuroscience with engaging games. Arcade’s mission is to radically transform the mental health journey through highly accessible, clinically validated therapeutic games that are as fun as they are effective. Our NYC-based team includes leaders in clinical research, consumer products, game development, and healthcare strategy. Arcade is the winner of the 2022 Rising Star Award by the prestigious Digital Health Hub Foundation in the Mental and Behavioral Health Category and named a Top 10 Startup to Watch in 2023 by Digital Health NY.

Nayan Ghosh

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SOURCE Arcade Therapeutics Inc.

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