While brain disorders have different etiology and stem from distinct molecular and cellular dysfunctions, due to limitation in current technology they all share an incomplete understanding of the anatomical and functional alterations occurring in hard-to-access deep regions of the brain.
DEEPER aims at tackling this fundamental challenge by developing an entire new class of photonic tools for imaging and manipulating neuronal activity in the deep brain with unprecedented penetration depth, resolution, sensitivity, specificity and depth of focus.
Technology development in DEEPER will be driven by medical expertise and market requirements and it will be organized in three pillars focusing on:
- novel high-efficiency molecular sensors and actuators;
- minimally invasive probes for monitoring and perturbing large populations of cells;
- next generation multiphoton microscopes and microendoscopes.
In a fourth pillar, this technological platform will enable a number of clinically relevant experiments which will contribute to reveal the molecular and cellular dysfunctions underlying the pathogenesis of specific neurological (addiction, chronic pain, Alzheimer's disease) and psychiatric disorders (depression, schizophrenia, and autism).
By shedding new light on the pathogenesis of disorders, which dramatically touch the lives of millions, DEEPER has the potential to profoundly impact our society. Moreover, in DEEPER technologists, neuroscientists, clinical and pre-clinical experts will bring the results from laboratory research to market supported by the SMEs in the consortium and by the companies and experts in the advisory board.
This will make the translation and exploitation of the DEEPER technologies fast and effective, building a value chain with strong translational appeal that will strengthen Europe's industrial position in the biophotonics market for optical neural interfaces, microscopy, and microendoscopy.