Ghent University: EU funding for the development of technology towards a personalized treatment for depression

Together with other institutions, Ghent University forms an international consortium to achieve a technological breakthrough towards a personalized treatment for depression

The project proposal UPSIDE – “Focused Ultrasound Personalized Therapy for the Treatment of Depression”, was successful in the EU call EIC Pathfinder challenge ‘Tools to measure and stimulate activity in brain tissue’. Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting 300 million people with a lifetime prevalence of 15%. Approximately one third of all MDD patients fail to respond to currently established treatments based on medication and psychotherapy and is thus treatment-resistant. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (tRMS), Vagus nerve stimulation, deep brain stimulation (DBS) and transcranial focused ultrasound (tFUS) still show poor spatial resolution (ECT, tRMS, tFUS) or low network coverage (VNS, DBS), with average remission rates in clinical trials still lower than 30%. Apart from the existing stimulation hurdles, reliable biomarkers for depression are needed as a diagnostic tool, and, in the case of neuromodulation-based therapies, to determine the stimulation efficacy and allow for personalized treatment. The UPSIDE aims to develop a hybrid epidural brain interface (EBI) for high-precision ultrasound neuromodulation (eFUS) and high-fidelity neural recording (eREC) for the personalized treatment of depression.

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