Neurotwin: New European project proposes a novel therapy for Alzheimer’s disease

2021-02-23

Neurotwin is a new 48-month EIC Pathfinder project initiated in January 2021 that 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. Uppsala University’s Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB) leads the ethics and philosophy component of the project.

graphic describing digital twins
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.

Personalized hybrid brain models uniting the physics of electromagnetism with physiology —neurotwins or NeTs— are poised to play a fundamental role in understanding and optimizing the effects of stimulation at the individual level. Benefiting from newly emerging physical and physiological modelling techniques, Neurotwin ambition 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.

This new sophisticated approach can lead to a major breakthrough in personalized therapy for neurodegenerative disorders, delivering disruptive solutions through model-driven, individualized therapy, where physics and computational neuroscience come together. 

This type of work raises ethical and philosophical questions that need to be addressed and handled responsibly. For those purposes, Kathinka Evers and Manuel Guerrero, from the Neuroethics and Philosophy of the Brain team at the Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB), Uppsala University, will lead the work on issues related to conceptual clarification and ethical awareness and related issues, working jointly with experts from various disciplines, such as nonlinear dynamics, network theory, biophysics, engineering, basic and computational neuroscience and clinical research. 

The coordinating institution of Neurotwin is a high-tech SME called 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.

About Neurotwin

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. Neurotwin: Digital twins for model-driven non-invasive electrical brain stimulation (2021-2024) is a Horizon 2020 FET Proactive Emerging Technologies and Communities FETPROACT-EIC-07-2020 project, with the Grant Agreement ID: 101017716, coordinated by Neuroelectrics Barcelona SL. Overall budget: 4 485 735,00 euros.

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