EIC Pathfinder Challenges project UPSIDE was granted!

The project proposal UPSIDE - “Focused Ultrasound Personalized Therapy for the Treatment of Depression.”, was granted in the EU call EIC Pathfinder challenge: Tools to measure and stimulate activity in brain tissue (HORIZON-EIC-2021-PATHFINDERCHALLENGES-01-02).

The multi-disciplinary and international consortium led by Dr. Tiago Costa, includes Dr. Dante Muratore and Prof. Dr. Ir. Wouter Serdijn from TU Delft, and partners from Belgium, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and the USA. With a total budget of 4.2 Meuro, the consortium will use the combined expertise in bioelectronics, brain-machine interfaces, focused ultrasound, neurobiology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry to achieve a technological breakthrough towards a personalized treatment for depression.

Project description: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting 300 million people with a lifetime prevalence of 15%. Approximately one third of all MDD patients fail to respond to currently established treatments based on medication and psychotherapy, thus falling into the category of Treatment-Resistant Depression (TRD) patients. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (tRMS), Vagus nerve stimulation, deep brain stimulation (DBS) and transcranial focused ultrasound (tFUS) still show poor spatial resolution (ECT, tRMS, tFUS) or low network coverage (VNS, DBS), with average remission rates in clinical trials still lower than 30 %. Apart from the existing stimulation hurdles, reliable biomarkers for depression are needed as a diagnostic tool, and, in the case of neuromodulation-based treatments, to determine the stimulation efficacy and allow for personalized treatment. The UPSIDE project aims to overcome the limitations above by developing a hybrid epidural brain interface (EBI) for high-precision ultrasound neuromodulation (eFUS) and high-fidelity neural recording (eREC) for the personalized treatment of depression.

Tiago Costa
Tiago Costa
Assistant Professor of Bioelectronics