Concept and Objectives

The unavoidable process of aging of the European population demands for a comprehensive technology support to the diagnostic and therapy of central nervous system diseases. These serious illnesses call for the most expensive diagnosis/therapy procedures in the western countries (sometimes more expensive than cardiologic diseases). Furthermore, central nervous system’s diseases are among those with the fastest growing impact on society They include degenerative brain diseases ranging from Alzheimer and Parkinson to circulatory problems including strokes.
Minimally-invasive ICT-based imaging technologies such as PET (Positron Emission Tomography), MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and EEG (Electro EncephaloGram), allow for monitoring and tracking the evolution of these illnesses starting from their preliminary setting and determining the strategy and the effectiveness of the prescribed therapies.
The project will pursue the simultaneous capturing/extraction of data produced by new generation’s imaging devices, in order to provide the best correlated information to the physician through an innovative and intelligent merging both in timing (i.e. EEG) and spatial resolution (i.e. PET).
This combined and synergistic approach can only be made possible through advances in various technology fields that include sensors, integrated equipments and systems for data fusion and novel data processing platforms that support Teraflop-range computing capability right at the doctor’s desktop. As a whole the project will anticipate new perspectives to improve patient’s support and treatment for central nervous system’s diseases, at much lower cost.
In line with ENIAC’s market timeline, this project will address some of the most appealing downstream technologies for 3D Functional Brain Imaging, yet focusing on realistic enhancement and super-integration, so to achieve higher quality delivery while reducing the overall cost of patient management.
The objectives of this project are:
1. Demonstration of a novel class of PET solid-state sensors and architecture to replace and enhance the old and extremely bulky photomultiplier tubes. This approach will lead to simpler, smaller and cheaper equipments, with better performance in terms of sensitivity and signal-tonoise ratio while improving the global reliability.
2. Demonstration of system concept for miniaturized electronics in local and targeted RF (Radio Frequency) excitation and signal reception in MRI.
3. Demonstration of 3D functional brain imaging based on active electrodes combining EEG and Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) signal acquisition, with improved support for precise localization of the signal source compared to existing source localisation methods.
4. Demonstration of a structured data-flow allowing to share/combine the information produced by each medical imaging modality in order to improve the global diagnostic picture of the central nervous system. Usage of 3D objects should increase the accuracy of the geometrical information by more than 10% depending on the rendering resolution and size of the objects. This would allow, in turn, to tailor and optimize some modality-specific processing;
5. Demonstration of a signal processing platform based on commodity components, which is able to provide provide Teraflop-level performance to the desktop of the physician to support the visualization algorithms required by the previous technologies. Pricing of HW for the commodity components should be less then 4k Euro;
6. Clinical application of the novel sensors and equipment. The target neurological pathology has been chosen as complementary to those targeted in the call ICT-2009.5.1: Personal Health Systems. Emphasis will be placed on the demonstration of suitability of the platform for simplified settings.