A smart multimodal neuroscience platform for enabling new drugs and innovative therapeutics against neurodegenerative diseases

2015  -  Québec City, QC, CA


Université de Laval

Project description

The future of drug discovery in neuroscience lies in developing the ability to assess, in a context sensitive manner, how each component of the enormously complex brain integrates, processes and transfers information. Although colossal advances in understanding cell-signaling events have been made using ex-vivo preparations, dealing with the highly reactive and ever changing (plastic) brain imposes to test intact in-vivo preparations to assess putative mechanisms and drug interventions. Thus, the true enabling drug discovery technologies will be those that bridge cellular studies with behavioral assessment.

This project aims to provide new tools to significantly ease and accelerate discovery of innovative therapeutics against neurodegenerative diseases through advanced wireless, multimodal, brain-interfacing technology. An innovative wireless platform will be deployed to extract the direct brain responses to drugs in real time by probing brain microcircuits of freely behaving rodents with high spatial resolution, and at millisecond time-scale through single cell electrophysiology technology and optogenetic capabilities. This advanced platform will combine a specialized microelectronic chip with an array of multifunctional micro-optrodes, all integrated within an autonomous microsystem perfectly suited to study network interactions with single-cell and single-spike resolution, and enable targeted manipulation of selected neuronal populations.

Relevance to the acceleration of therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases of aging

The monitoring of electrical activity from identified neurons in-vivo is key to understanding their role in information processing. Current techniques offer limited capabilities because they lack selectivity and temporal resolution, and have poor potential for miniaturization. These limitations will be overcome with the development of a wireless bioinstrument combining optical and electrical functionalities, all integrated within a single implantable system for minimal disruption to the surrounding tissues, to carry optical and electrical functionalities to the biological site of interest. This envisioned technology will provide a unique tool for enabling observation of brain microcircuits of freely behaving subjects in real time, which will accelerate ground breaking research towards new treatments against neurodegenerative diseases of aging.

Anticipated outcome

The expected results of this program will create the advanced wireless and multimodal, brain-interfacing technology required to enable a critical research paradigm centered on social interaction of freely behaving Alzheimer’s disease models. Moreover, the capability of precisely measuring the direct response of the brain to drugs at the scale of individual neurons at millisecond time-scale, yet during behaviour, will provide a direct performance indicator to increase drugs efficiency, which will have a measurable impact on the wealth of Canadians by reducing costs of healthcare, enabling new therapies and providing new tools to advance research.