Injected microbots against brain short-circuits: the CROSSBRAIN project has started

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Microbots injected into the endovascular system to counter aberrant electrical activity in the brain, as in the case of epileptic seizures or panic attacks. This is not science fiction, but the ambitious CROSSBRAIN research programme coordinated by the University of Rome Tor Vergata, with the participation of SISSA Professor Michele Giugliano's team and 7 other partners. 

Prof. Giugliano explains: "My lab will carry out the in vitro experimental validation. More in particular we will be in charge of testing the microscopic robots and lead the neurobiology experimental workpackage".

CROSSBRAIN started in November 2022 and will run for four years. It was awarded the prestigious EIC Pathfinder Challenge Grant, funded by the European Innovation Council (European Commission) under the Horizon Europe programme. 

It is known that a large number of pathological brain conditions directly involve aberrant electrical activity in the brain, such as epileptic seizures or panic disorders. Early diagnosis of such conditions is essential to make effective treatment possible. Unfortunately, explain the experts involved in the project, the technologies currently available for guiding and modulating brain activity for therapeutic purposes are severely limited to date. However, recent advances in nanotechnology may facilitate access to new innovative modalities and paradigms in the field of neuromodulation. In this case, thanks to microbots.

What will CROSSBRAIN do? The researchers' intentions are to create a highly innovative device consisting of a series of microbots which, implanted endovascularly, will operate cooperatively under network control and wireless power from a tiny central unit equipped with dedicated artificial intelligence algorithms. "Since there are many pathological brain conditions in which aberrant electrical activity is detected within the brain" explained the scientists involved, "CROSSBRAIN aims to detect electrical activity at the cellular and circuit level and modulate the electrical activity of the cells according to the specific needs of the patient". 

The nine partners of the project are University of Rome Tor Vergata (UNITOV), SISSA, Italy; PERC PERCUROS BV, The Netherlands; UGLA University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK; NLB NAMLAB GMBH, Dresden, Germany; FAU Friedrich Alexander Universitaet, Erlangen-Nuernberg, Germany; CIC Associacion Centro de Investigacion Cooperativa en Biomateriales, San Sebastian, Spain; IIT Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Genoa, Italy; CSIC Agencia estatal consejo superior de investigaciones cientificas Madrid, Spain.