International project develops new photonics technologies and tools for the analysis of brain changes that underlie the development of neurological and psychiatric diseases.
Understanding and treating diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer's disease, addiction, chronic pain, depression, and schizophrenia, requires understanding changes that can occur in deep regions of the brain. The DEEPER project, funded by the European Union, aims to develop new photonic technologies that enable access to these deep regions and uncover the molecular and cellular dysfunctions that underlie the development of these diseases. New tools are being developed to treat these diseases directly, minimally invasively and highly effectively. DEEPER will transfer the technological results from the laboratory to the market in order to strengthen Europe's industrial position in the biophotonics market.
The DEEPER project (Deep Brain Photonic Tools for Cell-Type Specific Targeting of Neural Diseases) is funded by the European Union through one of the most technologically ambitious financing systems (Research and Innovation Action (RIA) on Disruptive photonics technologies), with approx , 7 million euros funded for the next 4 years.
DEEPER brings together technologists, neuroscientists and clinical experts with high-tech companies.
They share a long-term vision to enable effective treatments for various neurological pathologies that are having a dramatic impact on our society. To achieve this, researchers will develop an entirely new class of photonic tools and instruments that use light to map and manipulate neural activity in deep brain regions with the highest resolution, penetration and specificity. The new instruments will be molecular optical sensors, minimally invasive brain probes, microscopes and endoscopes of the next generation, which will use light both to capture images of specific deeper brain regions and for the very controlled control of electrical brain activity in selected areas of the central nervous system. The aim is to investigate functional disorders on a molecular and cellular level. The consortium will use the newly developed technologies in a series of clinically relevant experiments that will help uncover changes that underlie the development of diseases of the brain.
The DEEPER research consortium includes the Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italy), the universities of Zurich (Switzerland), Geneva (Switzerland), Strathclyde (Great Britain), Freiburg, Hamburg, Sorbonne (France) and the Institute for Scientific Instruments of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Czech Republic), the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel), the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (Spain) and the companies OptogeniX (Italy) and ATLAS Neuroengineering (Belgium).