A novel method to improve outcomes of surgery to treat epilepsy has now received approval for clinical testing in 13 French hospitals. The approach could provide a better therapeutic perspective against the drug-resistant form of the disease, which constitutes one-third of all cases, and is a development by Human Brain Project scientist Viktor Jirsa and an interdisciplinary team of collaborators.
To help clinicians plan surgery strategies, the scientists created personalized brain models of patients and simulate the spread of abnormal activity during epileptic seizures. The method represents the first example of a personalized brain modeling approach entering the clinic and will now be assessed over four years in a cohort of 356 patients under strict requirements.
The Human Brain Project and The Virtual Brain
Over the last five years and in large part within the framework of the Human Brain Project, Jirsa and his team worked on an approach that could bring a change. The team has adapted the open network simulator The Virtual Brain towards applications in epilepsy. This work has laid foundations for the project EPINOV, short for “Improving EPilepsy surgery management and progNOsis using Virtual brain technology”, a consortium coordinated by Fabrice Bartolomei (Hôpital de la Timone) that brings together theorists like Jirsa, clinical neuroscientists, in particular from Marseille and Lyon, and the industry partner Dassault Systèmes.
After two pilot studies showed promising results for the approach, the EPINOV-consortium has received approval from the French regulatory authority to put their approach to the test in a full-scale multi-centric trial with almost 400 prospective patients.