PRIME Project

Neurological diseases are one of the most complex medical challenges of this century.

Epilepsy is one of the most common serious neurological condition, affecting about 1% of the population, i.e. about 60 million people globally (6 million in Europe). The most debilitating clinical aspect of the disease is recurrent, unprovoked fseizures that result from hypersynchronous, excessive neuronal firing. Frontline treatment is with anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) which work by continuously dampening brain excitability, cause serious side effects and are ineffective in one third of the cases. Brain surgery to remove affected tissue can be an option for only a minority of patients. Hence, new approaches are required that forecast occurrence of seizures and autonomously intervene to prevent them.

Available implantable devices delivering electrical stimulation to an epileptogenic zone have several shortcomings: their efficacy is modest, they respond only as the seizure is already occurring, they require bulky implanted batteries. In addition, they cannot autonomously prevent a seizure before it occurs or mitigate the underlying pathophysiology. Thus, safer, more effective and biologically intuitive solutions are required. The alternative and radical approach proposed in PRIME is to implant engineered cells with logic computing gate functions to sense and control seizures.

PRIME Grand Vision

To develop an autonomous implantable living cell system with engineered bio- computing logic gate (AND, OR gates) that sense, compute, and actuate epileptic seizure suppression. These cells will be implanted into the brain and will co-exist with natural neural tissue.

PRIME Results

The end result of PRIME is a software design tool for designing engineered cells that compute, diagnose, and produce therapeutic molecules capable of preventing seizures.

The design tool is governed by Artificial Intelligence (AI) integrated with Molecular Communication simulations that utilize Biophysical and Statistical Mechanics modelling. This trans-disciplinary project aims to approach a serious neurological problem through a solution bringing together synthetic biology, computer science, communication engineering, nanomedicine, bioengineering and material science. This vision of implanting programmable synthetic cells that mimic electronic computing circuits is not limited to managing epileptic seizures but may extend to many other neurological diseases.

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