Ottawa company pushes alternative to depression treatment

An Ottawa company needs $1.2 million to help fund a clinical trial for its new alternative to treatment for severe depression.

'Magnetic stimulation' replaces anti-depressant medication

An Ottawa company has a new alternative to anti-depressant medication that could soon face a clinical trial, but the only way that will happen is if more than $1 million is raised in less than a month.

The technology is called "Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation," which uses magnets to excite or inhibit parts of the brain that can cause mental illness, such as depression.

Founder of Ottawa company NeuroQore, Mehran Talebinejad, says his version of the magnetic stimulation is improved from previous versions. (CBC)

The technology has been around since the 1980s and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it five years ago. The results are mixed and one conclusion is clear - the technology is expensive.

But Ottawa company, NeuroQore Inc., said it has altered the magnetic stimulation and made improvements to help treat severe depression.

The company’s founder said he is excited about the potential alternative to medication.

"This type of treatment, this type of technology, is cutting edge," said Mehran Talebinejad, the company's founder and CEO.

"It's clear. It's there. Pharmaceuticals are not working very well. We need to look for other alternative solutions."

$1.2M needed for clinical trial

The new version of the alternative to anti-depressants has to perform well in clinical trials first, though, which is the big obstacle.

The Ottawa Hospital is ready to host the trial with 120 patients involved. The real problem is the steep bill of $1.2 million.

Talebinejad has Invest Ottawa backing him but he needs more "angel" investors, charities and he has a posting for donation on the crowd-funding website Indiegogo.

This machine is part of the magnetic stimulation that can be used as an alternative treatment for depression. It's been approved for use in the U.S. (CBC)

One of his pitches to potential supporters details how the product can apply to other psychiatric and neurological disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, Parkinson's disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I know that if we can get his product to market, get him into clinical trials, it's going to have a lot of positive impact," said Chris Johnson, the entrepreneur with Invest Ottawa who is working with NeuroQore Inc.

"[It] is great for Ottawa, but it's great for the world as well."

The company had raised just $450 of its $1.2 million target as of Saturday on the Indiegogo site.