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H2020 ERC - Proof of Concept Grant 2021-2023

An easy-to-use garment for the non-invasive recording of the electrical activity of the human spinal cord

Abstract: Lesions of the spinal cord in humans are devastating and often lead to severe refractory forms of chronic pain. Also, enhanced sensitivity of spinal cord neurons – an abnormal condition called central sensitization – is crucial for the development and maintenance of chronic pain. Effective treatment of pain will depend critically on a better understanding of the electrophysiological changes that occur at spinal cord level. Still, the electrical activity of spinal cord neurons can be assessed only indirectly, unless invasive approaches are used. Due to serious anatomical and physiological hurdles, the availability of a non-invasive approach to measure the electrical activity of human spinal neurons (electrospinogram, ESG) is lacking. This is the problem that SpinRec aims to solve. The product resulting from SpinRec, compatible with simultaneous measures of brain activity (e.g. electroencephalography), will allow for the first time to directly explore spinal sensorimotor circuits in health and disease, and thereby allow cost efficient early diagnosis and stratification of patients with chronic pain and spinal cord injury.

Total budget: 150000.0€

Total contribution: 150000.0€


H2020 ERC - Consolidator Grant 2018-2022

Novel neurophysiological techniques to quantify pain and stratify patients

Abstract: The PAINSTRAT project falls into the field of the neuroscience of pain. It has two main objectives. The first objective consists in identifying which activities of the human brain are related to the perception of pain. The second objective is to discover if these brain activities can tell us whether an individual is more or less at risk of developing chronic pain. Achieving these objectives strongly depends on a better understanding of the brain activity recorded during pain in health and disease. These objectives are challenging. The main hurdle is that the brain activity that specifically gives rise to painful sensations remain elusive. Indeed, most of the brain activity measured in awake humans using brain scanning techniques does not reflect pain perception per se, but the unspecific detection of novel salient events, irrespective of the sensory modality of the stimulus. Thus a fundamental question remains unaddressed: does the brain activity sampled by these techniques when an individual experiences pain correspond to the neuronal activity causing the emergence of the painful percept? Addressing this question constitutes the foundation of the PAINSTRAT project. The question addressed by PAINSTRAT is important for a basic understanding of brain function, but it also has obvious implications for the society. Sadly, remarkably little has changed in respect to the diagnosis and treatment of pain compared to 15 years ago, at least in terms of available analgesic drugs. The result is that pain, and particularly chronic pain, remains poorly treated for a substantial proportion of the 20% of Europeans that experience it, and it is a critical and ubiquitous problem in modern healthcare, alone costing the EU at least the staggering figure of €250

Total budget: 1181995.0€

Total contribution: 1181995.0€

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