CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Tools to measure and stimulate activity in Brain Tissue

Deadline: 27-10-2021

(Source: European Commission)

Programme Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON)

Call EIC Pathfinder Challenges 2021 (HORIZON-EIC-2021-PATHFINDERCHALLENGES-01)

Type of action HORIZON-EIC HORIZON EIC Grants

Type of MGA HORIZON Action Grant Budget-Based [HORIZON-AG]

Deadline model single-stage

Opening date 15 June 2021

Deadline date 27 October 2021 17:00:00 Brussels time

Scope:

Medical devices to measure and stimulate brain activity are emerging as tremendously powerful therapeutic tools that could revolutionise the treatment of brain diseases. Anomalous neuronal electrical signals are present in a wide range of disorders including memory impairment (Alzheimer’s), epilepsy, chronic pain, mood disorders, movement disorders (Parkinson’s), ischemic cognitive decline (post-heart attack), sensory disorders (hearing loss, tinnitus), cerebrovascular events, aging related neurodegeneration, traumatic brain injury amongst many others.

Unfortunately, existing devices to restore normal patterns of brain activity by stimulation have serious limitations. Invasiveness, limited miniaturisation, poor resolution (with only coarse measurement and stimulation available), limited spatial coverage (not able to monitor or stimulate a sufficient number of neurons) hamper the therapeutic effect or render these solutions unattractive for clinicians and patients.

Yet today’s state-of-the art microelectronics and microfabrication are potentially conducive to novel neuro-devices with high levels of miniaturisation, ultra-low power consumption, multi-site sensor/stimulator arrays (linear, planar or 3D with a wealth of geometries) and wireless architectures, leading to lower risk, shorter recovery times and better patient acceptance.

Further, progress can also be achieved by the discovery of new physical principles for activity monitoring (invasive or non-invasive) and activity modulation. These could explore ultrasound, light (optogenetics or otherwise), mechanical stimulation, local release of neuroactive compounds, ionising radiation, etc.

It is the right time to explore these opportunities and develop novel neurodevices that can be rapidly accepted by clinicians and patients.

Proposals submitted to this call should tackle at least one of the following two challenges:

  1. A full device with unique features, e.g. targeting a currently untreated disorder, offering unprecedented miniaturisation, low latency closed-loop monitoring-stimulation feedback (if necessary), ultra-low power consumption, low/moderate invasiveness (e.g. compatible with implantation with endoscopic techniques), high-resolution, sustainable, etc.

or

  1. New or nascent physical principles or methodologies that could be the basis for future brain sensing and/or stimulation technologies, with clear and quantifiable advantages. Focus is on techniques that can offer unprecedented data on brain function or that allow unprecedented modulation of brain activity for therapeutic purposes or brain-computer interfacing.

Specific conditions for this challenge

Proposals targeting a full device are strongly encouraged to establish a plausible work plan to realise by the end of the project at least 1) a working prototype device or instrument and 2) pre-clinical data with proof of therapeutic action.

Proposals targeting the discovery of a new mechanism for monitor and/or stimulate are advised to de-risk the work plan by exploring multiple strategies in parallel, merging competing strategies into a single proposal for cost efficiencies and increased likelihood of success.

Consortia considering both targets in a single proposal are advised to carefully analyse whether the high risk inherent to the discovery of new mechanisms or principles could hamper the plausibility of completing a full device hinging on said principles.

All proposals must fully justify the clinical need for the targeted development, and structure the work plan accordingly, towards credible future transition to market. Proposals need to consider the cost-benefit of the targeted technology and demonstrate that the outcome will be acceptable by clinicians and patients.

The gender dimension in research content should be taken into account, where relevant.

For more details, see the EIC Work Programme 2021 and the relevant Challenge Guide.

More information

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