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The target is the brain

The living brain project of Dassault Systèmes makes it possible to develop treatments for epilepsy patients who do not respond to drugs, says John McCarthy, head of life sciences and health at Dassault Systèmes in an interview with the science website at the CES conference

John McCarthy, Head of Life Sciences and Health at Dassault Systèmes. Photo: Avi Blizovsky
John McCarthy, Head of Life Sciences and Health at Dassault Systèmes. Photo: Avi Blizovsky

Dassault Systèmes' living brain project in collaboration with dozens of universities and pharmaceutical companies around the world was recently added to the older project - the living heart project, and together with the ability to conduct clinical trials, both projects helped developments in the field of medicine.

In a conversation with the science site during the CES 2023 conference that took place recently in Las Vegas, John McCarthy, responsible for business strategy in the field of life sciences and health at Dassault Systèmes, updated on the progress of both projects.

"In the Living Heart project, we announced guidelines together with the FDA for performing simulations in clinical trials. For this purpose, we developed 500 virtual patients with various heart valve disorders."

"But most of our announcements this time are in the living brain project. We have made progress in our ability to develop a simulation for several areas of the brain whose disruptions cause serious diseases. One of these diseases is epilepsy - the disease of falling. Patients with this disease suffer from the fact that some of their brain cells have been damaged and a lump is formed in the bone whose activity is not carried out. There are epilepsy patients who do not respond to medication, so they are required to undergo surgery, but the big challenge is to precisely locate the area of ​​the brain that causes the seizure, and that is not always easy."

"To attack the problem we do several things; First, a dMRI scan of the patient's brain, from which a three-dimensional digital twin is built that shows us the structural features of the brain. Unfortunately, this test does not make it possible to discover damaged areas."

"The next step is a non-invasive test by attaching electronic sensors around the skull that measure brain activity. We combine this data with the MRI imaging and with the atlas of the brain that shows us where different areas are located, for example an area of ​​speech, movement or balance. Combining this information allows surgeons to identify where the damaged area of ​​the brain is. Without a model that combines data of different types, this precise identification would not have been possible."

"In the next step the surgeons can decide what surgery is required. For example, it is possible to perform electrical stimulation deep in the brain by inserting a fiber into the problematic point and sending an electrical pulse to the affected area."

"We work with a number of neurologists who specialize in epilepsy. We saw how they perform their surgeries today, what data they collect, and we are able to decipher all types of imaging, MRI, EEG, SEEG, and tractography, which is a type of MRI that shows the connections between the neurons in the specific brain. We understand all types of data and how to combine them to create a three-dimensional model in the digital twin."

Alzheimer's is in the crosshairs

"Another progress we have made is in the field of degenerative diseases of the brain, including dementia and Alzheimer's, and this too through virtual twins. There is still no cure for these diseases, but we are trying to analyze the future effects of the amyloid and TAU blocks - in which the function of the proteins decreases. We locate them and use simulation to estimate the rate of disease progression. We run time forward in the simulation and watch how the nodules will spread and cause the brain to shrink, thus affecting the patient's quality of life. As mentioned, there is still no treatment for these diseases, but we hope that with the help of these models, the scientists will be able to better understand the phenomena and develop treatments and medicines, and that the caregivers of these patients will be able to understand how the disease will progress."

"Besides the heart, brain and lung projects, we at Dassault Systèmes have been active in the field of clinical trials since the purchase of Medidata. One of the things that happened during the corona virus is that many patients participating in clinical trials were prevented from going to the doctor, which is also a hassle for them, especially for those who are not feeling well. We provide remote monitoring and decentralization of clinical trials. The participants in the experiment receive an application in which they record when they took the medicine, what their condition is, and add data from sensors such as ECG and blood pressure. Besides the convenience, it also gives drug developers a lot of continuous and non-random data."

"Among other things, we use the measurement data in a non-personally identifiable way, to develop a model not only of a single person but of entire populations. This will be the added value of telemedicine, in addition to treating the diseases themselves." Case summary.

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One response

  1. Your definition of epilepsy is a bit strange and does not match the medical literature.
    It is better to write that there are many cases in which there is a damaged area in the brain. It does not reflect the situation in all epileptics or even most of them.

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