Neurotwin proposes a novel therapy for Alzheimer’s disease

Tuesday, 9 February, 2021
graphical representation of Neurotwin concept and its creation from subject data using finite element methods (physical models) and computational neuroscience models.
Neurotwin is a new EIC Pathfinder project that will build a computational framework to represent the mechanisms of interaction of electric fields with personalized brain networks and assimilate neuroimaging data in order to design personalized optimization strategies to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Neurotwin (Digital twins for model-driven non-invasive electrical brain stimulation, is a 48-month project initiated in January 2021. It was selected among proposals submitted for FET Proactive Emerging Paradigms and Communities call (FETPROACT-EIC-07-2020), in subtopic C: Digital twins for life sciences. Neurotwin concentrates on digital-twin technology for neuroscience.

The project will develop hybrid brain models able to represent the effects of non-invasive electrical brain stimulation appropriate in the context of large-scale connectivity alterations and oscillatory deficits that are characteristic to some of the brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease. The research team specifies the aim of the project as follows:

Our overall goal is to develop advanced individualized whole-brain models that predict the physiological effects of transcranial electromagnetic stimulation at the individual level and use them to characterize pathology, design, and test optimal brain stimulation protocols in Alzheimer’s disease.

Neurotwin technology will benefit from newly emerging physical and physiological modelling techniques, which allow the project to improve the prediction of neuromodulation effects, and to design and test optimized neuromodulation protocols.

In the words of the Coordinator, Giulio Ruffini of Neuroelectrics Barcelona, “We are here because we want to revolutionize neuropsychiatry and provide model-driven solutions to all patients in need. Our approach is science-based and computational: we believe now is the right time to attack the problem of personalized, model-driven neuromodulation  computationally, bringing together the physical and physiological aspects of the therapy. And while our current focus is on epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease, others will eventually  be approached computationally.”

This new sophisticated approach can lead to a major breakthrough in personalized therapy for neurodegenerative disorders: “The realization of the Neurotwin program will have a significant scientific impact because it requires a realistic representation of brain dynamics at several scales, states, and conditions. Our ultimate ambition is to deliver disruptive therapeutic solutions through a model-driven, individualized neuromodulation paradigm,” conclude the researchers.

That is, the goal is to revolutionize how some neuropsychiatric disorders are treated by creating personalized, model-driven solutions where physics and computational neuroscience come together.

The project brings together experts from various disciplines, such as nonlinear dynamics, network theory, biophysics, engineering, basic and computational neuroscience, clinical research, ethics and philosophy. The coordinating institution is a high-tech SME,  Neuroelectrics Barcelona. The other project partners are Universidad Pompeu Fabra, Spain; Universidad Pablo De Olavide, Spain; Uppsala University, Sweden; Forschungsgesellschaft für Arbeitsphysiologie und Arbeitsschutz, Germany; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, US; and Fundazione Santa Lucia, Italy.


Background information

 FET-Open and FET Proactive are now part of the Enhanced European Innovation Council (EIC) Pilot (specifically the Pathfinder), the new home for deep-tech research and innovation in Horizon 2020, the EU funding programme for research and innovation.