Galvani: controlling epileptic brain networks with computationally optimized weak electric fields

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder affecting 65 million people worldwide. Pharmacological treatments or surgery are ineffective in one-third of the cases – 19 million people.  Recent findings indicate that non-invasive brain transcranial current stimulation (tCS/tES) is safe and of therapeutic promise in epilepsy. However, it is not yet indicated as a standard treatment due to major scientific limitations: unknown mechanisms of action, insufficient account for patient-specific factors, poor understanding of short- and long-term effects.

Our ambition is to transform the care of a large fraction of patients living with drug-resistant epilepsies by solving a fundamental problem: to efficiently target and control large-scale epileptic brain networks with tCS-induced neuromodulatory weak electric fields.

Our 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 inflection point is to prevent epileptic seizures from a bottom-up mechanistic understanding and control of tCS effects. This will entail a paradigm shift in epileptic disorders and beyond.

Our research strategy seeks to: (1) Unravel the intricate relationship between weak electric fields and their neurophysiological effects; (2) Maximize their therapeutic effects by altering the neurodynamics of patient-specific epileptogenic networks; (3) Develop optimal personalized neuromodulation protocols for novel multichannel tCS technologies; (4) Test optimized protocols in a cohort of patients and objectively define potential responders.


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