Addressing the mental health crisis with personalised treatment: the launch of the Virtual Brain Twin

Project In the EU, mental disorders are a growing concern and the need for effective treatments has never been more critical. Schizophrenia, a condition that impacts 1% of the global population, shows the limitations of current therapeutic options, with 30-50% of patients experiencing inadequate responses to existing antipsychotics.

The "Virtual Brain Twin for Personalised Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders" project, initiated on 1 January 2024 and coordinated by EBRAINS AISBL, introduces an innovative approach to psychiatric care. It aims to generate virtual brain twins for psychiatric patients, through an ecosystem that utilises neuronal microcircuit simulation, mathematical analysis, innovative AI tools, and insights from psychiatric care and clinical studies. Funded by a 10 million Euro grant from the European Commission under the Horizon Health Europe Calls 2023 initiative, this open access and open-source four-year project plans to stand at the forefront of personalised medicine in psychiatry.

The goal of the Virtual Brain Twin platform is to guide clinicians in optimising medication type and dosage, and exploring alternative treatments like brain stimulation and lifestyle changes. By harnessing big data, multiscale modelling, and high-performance computing - all securely protected for data safety - this platform intends to better bridge the gap between molecules and the patient’s brain.

Under the scientific direction of Prof. Viktor Jirsa, Director of the Inserm Institut de Neurosciences des Systèmes at Aix-Marseille-Université, France, and Chief Science Officer EBRAINS AISBL, the project will focus on psychosis in schizophrenia patients. "The Virtual Brain Twin project not only aims to enhance the quality of life for individuals suffering from these conditions, but also to lead the development of personalised treatments.", Jirsa stated.

Guided by ethics requirements and embedded within the European digital neuroscience research infrastructure, EBRAINS, the Virtual Brain Twin platform aims to be initially accessible to neuroscientists, clinical researchers, and mathematical modellers. In the future, it intends to expand to clinicians and patients, with the objective to achieve better patient outcomes.

Further reading: New in The Lancet Neurology: Advances in brain modelling open a path to digital twin approaches for brain medicine, Press Release March 27, 2023

About EBRAINS

The EBRAINS research infrastructure, a key outcome and legacy of the EU-funded Human Brain Project (HBP), was officially launched in 2019. Two years later, in 2021, EBRAINS was included in the Roadmap of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). In this next phase, after the recent conclusion of the HBP, EBRAINS will complete the transition into a sustainable infrastructure.

EBRAINS is an open research infrastructure that gathers high-quality research data, tools and computing facilities for brain-related research, built with interoperability at the core. The infrastructure offers an extensive range of FAIR data sets, a most comprehensive multilevel brain atlas, AI-based tools for analysis, modelling and simulation tools, and access to high-performance computing resources, robotics and neuromorphic platforms to researchers. Explore the tools and services available here.

EBRAINS AISBL is an international non-profit association, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. It is organised around a central hub that coordinates a pan-European network of services delivered through currently 11 National Nodes : Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.