Researchers at Aix-Marseille University and Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Marseille (APHM) have developed an exciting new model of ‘personalised’ brain networks, based on information obtained in a non-invasive way. The work is published in the journal NeuroImage.The team hopes to be able to use this model, known as the Virtual Epileptic Patient (VEP), to predict how seizures occur in individuals and develop new, personalised therapies.The researchers, led by Professor Fabrice Bartolomei, took recordings from the brain of a 41-year-old woman with bitemporal epilepsy (on both sides) and, using computer imaging and mathematical modelling, made a virtual reconstruction of her brain. They are using this as a “template” and are adding information about the organisation of the brain in different individuals onto it.The virtual brain can be used to test mathematical models of brain activity, and it will hopefully allow scientists to reproduce the seizure focus in individuals (the area in the brain where seizures arise), in order to gain important information about how seizures start and spread. Moreover, it will potentially help surgeons decide where in the brain to operate, and allow them to trial different surgical procedures in a virtual way to find out which will offer the best outcome.According to a press release, the team is now developing trials to demonstrate the value of the virtual brain in clinical applications. The long-term aim is to use the VEP to predict the effects of different antiepileptic drugs on an individual’s brain and be able to administer a treatment that will give the best outcome for that person (personalised medicine).Approximately 1% of the world’s population has epilepsy, but the condition affects each person in a different way. The ability to map epileptic activity in individual brains will help scientists develop new, more effective treatment strategies.Author: Dr Özge ÖzkayaClick here for more articles about brain science including genetics.