Simulation-based approach for epilepsy receives regulatory approval

11 November 2019 (Last Updated November 11th, 2019 10:40)

A personalised brain modelling approach to improve the outcomes of epilepsy surgery has received approval for clinical testing in 13 hospitals in France.

Simulation-based approach for epilepsy receives regulatory approval
The new approach is expected to bring first breakthrough for drug-resistant epilepsy patients undergoing brain surgery. Credit: Human Brain Project.

A personalised brain modelling approach to improve the outcomes of epilepsy surgery has received approval for clinical testing in 13 hospitals in France.

Developed by Human Brain Project scientist and professor Viktor Jirsa, as well as an interdisciplinary team of collaborators, the simulation-based approach is expected to provide a better therapeutic perspective against drug-resistant epilepsy.

Approximately 50 million people worldwide are affected by epilepsy, a neurological disorder.

Although seizures can be managed by drugs in several cases, nearly one-third of all patients are also drug-resistant.

For drug-resistant patients, the only option is surgical removal of the epileptogenic zone, an area from where the seizure activity first occurs.

The current methods are quite challenging as it is critical to precisely localise the epileptogenic zone in the brain.

Professor Jirsa said: “This low success rate has largely stayed the same for the last 30 years. We hope our approach can finally improve the odds for patients.”

Researchers created personalised brain models of patients and simulated the spread of abnormal activity during seizures, enabling clinicians to plan their surgical process.

During the last five years and in most part within the framework of the Human Brain Project, Jirsa and his team worked on the open network simulator, The Virtual Brain, towards applications in epilepsy.

The work has laid the basis for EPINOV project, which stands for Improving EPilepsy surgery management and progNOsis using Virtual brain technology.

EPINOV is a consortium coordinated by professor Fabrice Bartolomei of Hôpital de la Timone.

Following promising results from two pilot studies, the EPINOV-consortium has secured approval from the regulatory authority in France to put their method to test in a multi-centre trial with the enrolment of almost 400 patients.

High-Performance Computing enabled personalisation of brain network models via the use of machine learning, enabling the creation of a brain model of each patient, as well as testing and estimation during surgery preparation.

Under the EPINOV-consortium, industrial partner Dassault Systèmes will develop a virtual brain-based simulation software prototype, which could be provided later to clinics worldwide.