The IT'IS Foundation is participating on a project – Experimentally Validated Computational Pipeline of Ultrasound Propagation and Neuron-Coupling for Non-Invasive Peripheral Nervous System Stimulation – together with Profs. Silvestro Micera of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Emmeric Tanghe of Ghent University. The project is funded by The Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) in partnership with the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) as part of the Weave Multilateral Lead Agency Procedure.
In recent years, ultrasound has gained recognition as a non-invasive means to apply high-precision neuromodulation. There is, however, only limited understanding of how ultrasound waves interact with neurons, and the lack of a mechanistic paradigm has slowed development of ultrasound approached to neuromodulation therapy to treat brain and peripheral nervous system disorders. The goal of this project is to develop an open-source comprehensive pipeline for simulation of ultrasonic wave propagation and how it couples with neural tissue for the application of peripheral nervous system stimulation. For the simulations, neuronal dynamics models based on statistical data of fiber type distributions and histological data are used to create detailed anatomically realistic computational phantoms of functionalized micro- and macro-neuroanatomy. Models of ultrasonic transducers are then placed in the phantom for simulation of the acoustic field, and the resulting neuronal response, such as electrophysiological or compound action potential traces, is validated by comparison to sonication experiments performed on rat sciatic nerve and dorsal rootlet tissues.
Weave – a bottom-up cross-European initiative embedded in Science Europe – was developed by European research funders to support excellent European collaborative research projects across national and regional borders, making use of existing funding channels for fundamental research. Weave's aims are to simplify the submission and selection procedures for collaborative project proposals submitted by teams of researchers from 2–3 European countries or regions that have signed the Weave initiative.