Opto-Electronic Neural Connectoid Model Implemented for Neurodegenerative Disease

Title Opto-Electronic Neural Connectoid Model Implemented for Neurodegenerative Disease
Acronym OpenMIND
Start date 2022-11-01
End date 2025-10-31
Sponsor Horizon Europe Framework Programme
Institution Technical University of Denmark

Associated cell lines

Project Description

(NDD). Parkinson’s disease (PD) is associated with tremor and loss of motor functions due to progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the brain. This can lead to memory loss and dementia, which is associated with short- and long-term injuries and disabilities with emotional, financial, and social burdens for patients, families, and society. The exact causes and mechanisms underlying PD are still unknown and existing treatments focus on alleviating symptoms and increasing quality of life, but do not halt or reverse disease progression. Although animal models give unique possibilities to study physiological and behavioural mechanisms, drug development fails due to lack of translation to humans. Alternative non-animal NDD models is needed both in terms of better translation, but also to replace expensive and problematic animal experiments. We will move disease modelling to a new level and replace animal models, by creating a new concept we call connectoids. We will develop an ex-vivo-type in vitro human opto-electronic multi-regional brain organoid disease model in which connectoids are formed by precise spatial arrangement of brain organoids connected via hydrogel tracts that promote axonal pathfinding, functional connection, and signalling. By developing 1) light controllable sub-type specific neurons within regionalized brain organoids, and 2) electrodes and waveguides that can penetrate the organoids able to monitor neurotransmitter signalling inside and between the organoids, we will for the first time be able to sense how a particular brain region responds to a certain therapy and watch in real time how signals are transmitted to other brain regions. Our model will not only have health benefit, but will relieve a heavy economic burden on society, and open up for new possibilities for technological and economic development.