25.01.2024

The Wyss Center and partners launch CHF 18 million Lighthouse Partnership to develop smarter therapies for neurologic and mental health disorders based on AI guided neuromodulation

Collaboration

Geneva, Switzerland, January, 25, 2024 – The Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering, a non-profit translational R&D organization, along with EPFL Neuro X Institute, UNIGE Synapsy Centre for Neuroscience and Mental Health research and clinical partners at Campus Biotech in Geneva, announced today the launch of the Lighthouse Partnership on artificial intelligence-guided neuromodulation. The partners’ objective is to leverage the interdisciplinary excellence present in the Lemanic Region to further innovate and accelerate novel cutting-edge neurotechnologies to treat neurological and mental health disorders.  

The impact of deaths and disability caused by neurological disorders is increasingly being recognized as a global public health challenge, and this burden is set to rise during the next few decades as a result of an aging population[1]. Around 165 million Europeans are living with a brain disorder[2], and it is estimated that one in three people will suffer from a neurological and/or mental disorder at some point in their lives. It is increasing clear that novel treatments using recent advances in artificial intelligence, neuroscience and neurotechnology are urgently needed to address this challenge.

A new model of cooperation and collaboration to accelerate translational research and development in the field of neurotechnology and artificial intelligence. 

“We are excited to launch the Lighthouse Partnership with our outstanding university partners to drive the development of disruptive neurotechnologies. By combining artificial intelligence and novel neuromodulation techniques, we aim to target deep brain structures non-invasively, advance a brain-spine interface for paralysis, and innovate peripheral nerve therapies”, explains Tracy Laabs, Head of Special Programs & Development and Coordinator of the Lighthouse Partnership at the Wyss Center. The Lighthouse Partnership represents a new approach to inter-institutional cooperation and collaboration at Campus Biotech in Geneva. It brings together the non-profit Wyss Center and academic institutions such as the Neuro X Institute of the École Polytechnique Federal Lausanne, the Synapsy Centre for Neuroscience and Mental Health research of the University of Geneva (UNIGE), and clinical partners (Hôpitaux universitaires de Genève (HUG) and Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) that provide clinical inputs as well as the interface with patient populations. “As a research institute exploring breakthrough neurotechnologies across a wide spectrum of potential use cases, we are looking forward to the unique translational capabilities of the Wyss Center to advance our most mature technologies into the clinic”, highlights Stéphanie Lacour, Director of EPFL-Neuro X Institute.

By establishing interdisciplinary collaborations between 30+ leading scientists, engineers, researchers, and clinicians in the fields of neuroscience, engineering, computer science, and medicine, the Lighthouse Partnership promises new avenues for the development of cutting-edge AI-guided neuromodulation therapies. “UNIGE with its world-class neuroscience researchers is proud to be a partner in this initiative to raise the position of neuroscience and neurotechnology in Western Switzerland,” adds Camilla Bellone, Director of the Synapsy Centre for Neuroscience and Mental Health research at the University of Geneva.

Three groundbreaking AI-guided neuromodulation translational projects.

The partnership will initially focus on advancing the development of three translational projects at the intersection of circuit neuroscience, neuroengineering and neuro-AI:

  • Non-invasive neuromodulation of subcortical structures for neuropsychiatric disorders that leverage AI to enable precision treatments.
  • A Brain-Spine digital bridge to advance the next generation of the technology that will bridge the brain and spinal cord to overcome paralysis.
  • Minimally-invasive optogenetic therapy for peripheral Nerve Disorders for people living with spasticity.

Four years to get technologies ready for start-ups or industry partnerships to reach the clinic. 

Partners have committed to focus on furthering joint research and development for the next four years on these three strategic projects. It is anticipated that start-ups and strategic partnerships will enable technologies and therapies developed through this partnership to reach the clinic. The Wyss Center has committed to provide CHF 18M funding over four years to accelerate translational technologies for industry partnerships and clinical impact. “The Lighthouse Partnership exemplifies the Wyss Center’s mission to innovate and accelerate promising technologies to improve the lives of people suffering from neurologic and mental health disorders”, continues Erwin Böttinger, Director of the Wyss Center.

To download logos and files, click here

 

Contacts for questions to Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering

Tracy Laabs, Head of Special Programs & Development and Coordinator of the Lighthouse Partnership at the Wyss Center, Wyss Center, tracy.laabs@wysscenter.ch

Contacts for questions to Neuro X Institute at EPFL

Stéphanie P. Lacour, Director, Neuro X Institute, EPFL, stephanie.lacour@epfl.ch

Contacts for questions to Synapsy Centre for Neuroscience and Mental Health research at the University of Geneva.

Camilla Bellone, Director, Synapsy Centre for Neuroscience and Mental Health research at the University of Geneva, camilla.bellone@unige.ch

 

About neurotechnology and neuromodulation

 Neurotechnology: refers to any technology that provides greater insight into brain or nervous system activity, or affects brain or nervous system function. Neurotechnology can be used purely for research purposes, such as experimental brain imaging to gather information about mental illness or sleep patterns. It can also be used in practical applications to influence the brain or nervous system; for example, in therapeutic or rehabilitative contexts. (source: IEEE Brain Technical Community)

Neuromodulation is technology that acts directly upon nerves. It is the alteration—or modulation—of nerve activity by delivering electrical or pharmaceutical agents directly to a target area. (source: INS, international neuromodulation society)

 

About the Wyss Center

The Wyss Center is an independent not-for-profit translational R&D organization focused on advancing disruptive neurotechnologies to transform the lives of people with neurological and mental health disorders. The Center pursues transformational technologies in artificial intelligence, bio- and neuroengineering to restore essential neural functions and deliver precision therapeutics for people with debilitating neurological and mental health disorders.

Based at Campus Biotech in Geneva, Switzerland, the Wyss Center partners with faculty, clinicians and industry, in Switzerland and internationally, to drive innovation and maximize clinical impact. The Wyss Center was established by a generous donation from the Swiss entrepreneur and philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss in 2014.

www.wysscenter.ch

 

About the Neuro X Institute at EPFL

Building on a decade of pioneering translational research at its Center for Neuroprosthetics, EPFL established the Neuro X Institute in 2022. As an institute drawing on expertise from three of EPFL’s five schools, the School of Engineering, the School of Life Sciences and the School of Computer and Communication Sciences, Neuro X embraces the polytechnic approach to explore and manipulate functions in both the healthy and impaired nervous system.

At Neuro X, our 250 scientists and engineers from 13 laboratories conduct research in three main areas:

_ Neurosciences

We investigate the anatomy and function of brain circuits from the molecular level up to functional MRI readings.

_ Neural Engineering

We conceive, manufacture, and validate implantable and wearable neural interfaces.

_ Neurocomputation

We model and simulate how the brain works, leveraging advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, to derive innovative computing schemes and algorithms.

The cross-fertilization of these three research domains is a continuous translational effort to dramatically accelerate delivery of new therapies to patients.

neuro-x.epfl.ch

 

About the Synapsy Centre for Neuroscience and Mental Health Research

The Synapsy Centre for Neuroscience Research in Mental Health is part of the University of Geneva’s Faculty of Medicine and is located on the Biotech Campus. The Synapsy Centre currently comprises 25 affiliated laboratories. Its aim is to develop translational and transdiagnostic research to study and understand the biological and neurodevelopmental origins of mental disorders.To achieve this goal, it promotes interdisciplinary research themes that bridges basic and clinical neuroscience, combining knowledge from animal, computational or in vitro models with an unerstanding of the complex functions observed in humans. The Synapsy program aims to define new areas of research and develop innovative methodologies that will facilitate diagnosis and therapy.As the successor to the former Synapsy National Centre of Competence in Research, the Centre benefits from the knowledge and expertise accumulated over the twelve years of its existence. The new centre aims to expand the impact of psychiatric neuroscience research.

unige.ch/medecine/synapsycentre/center

 

 

 

[1] https://www.paho.org/en/enlace/burden-neurological-conditions

[2] https://research-and-innovation.ec.europa.eu/research-area/health/brain-research

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