Orion and Newel Health sign licensing agreement for VR DTx

Orion Corp's Rohkea

Finland’s Orion Corp has entered into a licensing agreement with digital therapeutics (DTx) specialist Newel Health, handing over rights to an app designed to support patients with chronic pain.

Newel gains exclusive worldwide rights to develop, manufacture, and commercialise the app, called Rohkea or ODD-403, which uses virtual reality to deliver a gamified treatment programme for chronic pain that specifically aims to address patients’ fear of movement and re-injury.

Rohkea – a Finnish word meaning brave or bold – encourages patients with chronic pain to navigate a virtual, open-world landscape using their whole bodies, carrying out tasks such as writing or drawing on an easel, picking fruit, packing fitting items into a box, and solving puzzles using physical movements.

The idea is that engagement with the game elements in a VR setting distracts patients from the risk of pain, allowing them to increase both the intensity and range of movement they can manage over time.

In a pilot clinical trial published in 2022, patients using the DTx for six to eight weeks reported greater reductions in fear of movement and better global impression of change when compared with a placebo VR app and a group that just continued standard care.

According to Orion’s director of digital medicine, Sammeli Liikkanen, Newel Health “is one of the frontrunners in […] DTx applications [and] has the best expertise to further develop and bring ODD-403 to patients.”

Newel Health – which is supported by the venture capital arm of pharmaphorum parent, Healthware Group – is best known for its wearable and artificial intelligence-driven DTx for Parkinson’s disease, Soturi, which is being tested in a clinical trial to see if it can be used to enhance the efficacy of Parkinson’s therapies.

Soturi was developed in collaboration with Orion, so, the new licensing deal consolidates the relationship between the two companies.

“Orion Corporation’s commitment to address medical needs through digital innovation has been the driving force behind our ongoing collaborations,” said Gerry Chillè, chief strategy officer at Newel Health.

“Today we are excited to welcome ODD-403 under our wing for further development and introduction to market, adding virtual reality modalities to our growing portfolio of partner-ready DTx solutions,” he added.

Newel Health, meanwhile, is also developing Amicomed, an app designed to help patients with hypertension manage their blood pressure with personalised behavioural lifestyle modifications.