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NTT and NCNP to develop 'Brain Bio-Digital Twin' technology for early disease detection


NTT and the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry (NCNP) announced that they have signed a partnership agreement to develop and put the Brain Bio-Digital Twin into practical use for the early detection and prevention of dementia and other diseases.

Owing to aging populations and excessive stress in modern society, the increase in individuals with dementia and depression has become a social problem. In addition, several issues exist such as the lack of established therapeutic drugs and methods to manage these diseases, the need for highly invasive and complex examinations, and the heavy psychological and economic burden on these patients and their families.

In response to this issue, NCNP focused on initiatives for psychiatric and nervous system diseases based on the concept of a Brain Bio-Digital Twin that can predict the state and function of the brain and nerves. They can provide high-quality medical and personalized care to address the abovementioned problems.

The Center is working towards building a library platform that collects and systematically organizes the vast amount of data on psychiatric and nervous system diseases acquired through clinical and research activities. Furthermore, they are working towards developing a model for thorough investigation/selection of data based on clinical knowledge, and a model of these pathologies with complete use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies. Accordingly, NCNP is working towards the future realization of an 'AI brain simulator' that can predict the brain state and function in disease states.

NTT proposed the concept of a 'Bio Digital Twin' in November 2020, which precisely maps the brain, body, and mind as digital data. In addition to conducting research and development, the company is also providing some commercial options in this regard. NTT has the experience and know-how in research and development of Bio Digital Twins for the mind, body, and heart and possesses high-level AI and ML processing technology. Moreover, the company has the potential to accelerate research also on the Brain Bio- Digital Twin and contribute to early achievement of such technology.

NTT and the NCNP recognized the potential of each other's ideas and efforts and entered into a partnership agreement with the aim of quick realization and practical application of Brain Bio-Digital Twin.

Brain Bio-Digital Twin captures various body data obtained from medical examinations and tests in daily life, computerizes the data, and develops the data by Digital Twin computing technology over cyberspace to create detailed maps and biological models. Practical application of this technology that targets the brain and nerves will enable the use of the Twin instead of the patient's body for tests, which is expected to have many effects through its practical applications. For example, a reduction in the physical and mental burden on patients would be achieved by eliminating the need for complex and invasive tests and decrease the cost burden on patients by allowing simpler tests.

In addition, this will make it possible to conduct tests and treatments even at small hospitals, through sharing of data from large-scale testing equipment. Furthermore, it can facilitate prediction of whether individual patients are likely to develop side effects and of how severe side effects they are likely to experience before they start taking particular drugs. This would also make it possible to accelerate approval of certain drugs and reduce the burden on patients by supporting the verification of drug efficacy and side effects (such as providing support for clinical trials).

Moreover, prediction of onset risk and early detection/prevention of diseases through advanced analysis of clinical findings would be made possible. It could also lead to the establishment of systematic treatment drugs/methods that are based on data collection, reproduction, and analysis of various pathologies.

NTT and NCNP will bring together accumulated data and knowledge and start building a processing infrastructure for the Brain Bio-Digital Twin in FY2024. They plan to develop models of several functions and pathologies of the brain and nervous system in approximately three years and achieve a highly practically implementable Brain Bio-Digital Twin.

Following this, they will collaborate with the pharmaceutical regulatory authorities to address urgent issues that require the rapid development of effective therapeutic drugs. In addition, they plan to put the system into practical use for early detection and prevention of diseases, including highly accurate prediction of the presence and severity of side effects that depend on the individual before medication is administered.

This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd. ( Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.

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