Neuroelectrics is very honored to announce the award of an ERC Synergy Grant to our modeling team, led by our President and PI Dr. Giulio Ruffini. The Galvani proposal represents a paradigm shift in neuroscience by bringing together advanced modeling and transcranial stimulation technology in the context of epilepsy.
Our CEO Ana Maiques acknowledges “it is an honor to probably be the 1st Spanish SME to get an ERC”.
GALVANI’s – whose full title is “Controlling epileptic brain networks with computationally optimized weak electric fields” – is a 6-year project focusing on the use of model-driven personalized brain stimulation (tCS) in epilepsy. The vision that the human brain is a complex network that, for the first time in history, we can begin to mathematically model, underlies GALVANI’s conceptual framework.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder affecting over 65 million people worldwide, which nowadays can be treated by anti-epileptic drugs or surgery. However, one-third of this population does not respond to any treatment. As a consequence, over 19 million people suffer from cognitive and psychiatric co-morbidities and mortality and injuries caused by this pathology.
Recent studies have shown that non-invasive brain transcranial current stimulation (tCS) has a positive therapeutic impact on patients. Over 10 studies, 147 patients and 6 sham-controlled studies indicate a potential for seizure reduction.
Yet, it is to be proved to be an indicated standard treatment to patients due to major scientific limitations: poorly-defined epilepsy networks, poor understanding of short- and long-term effects of transcranial stimulation, non-personalized treatment, etc.
The vision and mission
The project vision is that critical features of pathological networks can be effectively captured in a new generation of hybrid computational models developed for tailored therapy. The term hybrid is used to emphasize the combination of physical (electrical, anatomical) and physiological elements in these models. Using such models tailored with patient data we aim to efficiently target and control large-scale epileptic brain networks with tCS-induced neuromodulatory weak electric fields.
The project is formed by a synergetic team with high-level expertise in brain and epilepsy, gathering three already known collaborators: with Fabrice Wendling (coordinating PI), Research Director at INSERM (creating Neuro-inspired models), Giulio Ruffini, Neuroelectrics President (providing biophysical models and personalization), and Fabrice Bartolomei of University Hospital la Timone Aix-Marseille (specialized in Epileptology and clinical trials).
A galvanic synergy
Galvani is the perfect combination of Science with Impact: biomathematics (computational neuroscience), biophysics (bioelectromagnetism), engineering and medicine (epileptology). Its ambition is to produce scientific breakthroughs with a significant, clinically relevant outcome.
The Neuroelectrics team will be responsible for biophysical modeling and the development and personalization of hybrid brain models. We will then participate in the design and execution of a multi-center clinical trial of model-driven transcranial Current Stimulation (tCS) on epileptic patients, as an alternative therapeutic option.
As described by Giulio Ruffini, “Galvani’s roots can be traced to Starlab's FET Open HIVE project, where so many things were envisioned some 10 years ago. Its success as a proposal no doubt benefits from the hard-won heritage of Neuroelectrics’ Starstim technology and the earlier clinical studies in epilepsy we carried out recently in Boston. The combined efforts of a highly synergic and close-knit team will no doubt play a critical role in Galvani’s success.”