Partnering opportunity

Virtual-reality-based technical solution for risk-free behavioral testing of humans in Elevated Plus Maze setups

Summary

A German research institution and a company have jointly developed a virtual-reality-based technical solution, which enables enhanced Elevated Plus Maze (EPM) testing of humans in real-life-related situations without any risk. An industrial or institutional partner involved in virtual reality research, behavioral research, or pharma research is sought for licensing, transfer of rights, knowledge transfer, or R&D cooperation.

Partner sought

Sought are industrial or institutional partners involved in behavioral research, neuroscience/diagnosis, or in pharmaceutical research and development. This includes - Research institutions with focus on emotional testing, such as for fear and anxiety, - Pharmaceutical companies with an interest of testing anxiety-reducing drugs under more realistic conditions, - Institutions with a focus on neuroscience / diagnosis with a focus on audio-visual human testing, - Provider of VR-Systems with an interest of system employment in fields related to those mentioned above. Partners are sought for licensing, transfer of rights (pending patent), or knowledge transfer. The innovation could be tested and refined in commercially relevant projects and R&D cooperation.

Description

The Elevated Plus Maze (EPM) is the gold standard to assess approach-avoidance behavior and the efficacy of anti-anxiety drugs in rodents, but it cannot be employed for the study of fear and anxiety in humans due to serious safety and technical issues, e.g. the required elevated testing platform. However, development of therapies and testing of pharmaceuticals could greatly benefit if such tests would be available for human test subjects. A German research group and a company have jointly developed a new tool, which merges the traditional EPM concept with Virtual Reality (VR) to overcome these limitations and enable EPM tests in humans. Through a combination of physical and VR features, augmentation of a test area to simulate for EPM-conditions is achieved by a unique stimuli source, including physical, aural and visual inputs. The perception of the test subject is influenced via specifically adapted VR-goggles. A newly developed software controls the parameters and triggers the stimuli, thus permitting a flexible configuration of the test conditions. The software also monitors the test subject’s position, viewing direction and movements through a specifically designed calibration instrument, which is integrated in the platform. Partners could be enterprises or institutions from the field of behavioral research, neuroscience/diagnosis, emotional testing, such as for fear and anxiety, or from the pharmaceutical industry. They could benefit from a transfer of rights of the existing IP (patent pending), licensing, knowledge transfer, or R&D collaborations to tested and refine the technology in commercially relevant projects.

Advantages and innovations

- Overcomes the safety issues of current EPM tests, therefore makes EPM applicable for emotional testing in humans, e.g. fear and anxiety - Enables behavioral testing in relevant and real-life-related situations - Cost savings by adapting physical test environment by VR

Development stage

Prototype available for demonstration

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Patent(s) applied for but not yet granted


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