NTT and NCNP to Develop Brain Bio-Digital Twin Technology

The technology could detect and prevent dementia, depression and other mental illnesses.

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NTT Corporation (NTT) and the National Center for Neurology and Psychiatry (NCNP) have entered into a partnership agreement to develop “Brain Bio-Digital Twin” technology. The collaboration will focus on applying this groundbreaking technology to detect and prevent dementia, depression and other mental illnesses. NTT and NCNP will initially focus on practical applications of this technology that eliminate the need for invasive and costly testing of various brain diseases.

By implementing NTT’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies, the Brain-Bio Digital Twin technology has the potential to truly personalize medicine, helping to prevent medical errors and accelerate drug trials.

The number of people diagnosed with dementia and depression is growing every year. A Japanese government study found that in 2025, approximately 6.75 million people over the age of 65 in the country will have dementia. In addition, the percentage of people diagnosed with depression in Japan has more than doubled since before the pandemic. These conditions are challenging to address because of the lack of systematic medicines and treatment methods, the need for complex and highly invasive testing and the psychological and economic burden on patients.

NCNP, a board member of Japan Health Research Promotion Bureau, aims to overcome these challenges and achieve high-quality medical care, including personalized medicine, through the concept of the Brain Bio-Digital Twin. Specifically, the organization is building a library platform that aggregates and systematically organizes vast amounts of data on mental and nervous system diseases that have been acquired through clinical and research activities. Once the data is collected and analyzed, it can be used to model disease states using AI and ML and to develop an AI brain simulator that predicts brain states and functions of disease states.

In November 2020, NTT proposed the concept of Bio-Digital Twin, which allows users to map not only the brain but also the body and psychology as detailed digital data, to understand the current state of a person’s physical and mental conditions. In addition to its experience in conducting research and development of a bio-digital twin for the mind and body, including the heart, NTT can leverage high-level AI and ML processing technology that enables NTT to accelerate research on Brain Bio-Digital Twin and make a significant contribution to the early development of these technologies. In addition, NTT will also build an ecosystem with business partners for commercialization and promotion.

As part of this partnership, NCNP will provide image data such as PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and bio samples (Blood, cerebrospinal fluid, tissue samples, genetic information, etc.), which are particularly useful for analyzing cranial nerve diseases. NCNP will also provide medical interpretation of the underlying relationship between the results obtained by AI and ML processing and pathology, and necessary clinical implementation.

The Brain Bio-Digital Twin incorporates various types of body data obtained through medical examinations into a computer as digital data and enables the creation of detailed maps and biological models through digital twin computing technology. The practical application of the Brain Bio-Digital Twin will enable the "twin" to be used for testing, rather than the patient's own brain and nerves.

The following effects can be expected from the practical application of the Brain Bio-Digital Twin.

  • Reduce the physical and mental burden of patients by eliminating the need for invasive and complex tests
  • Reduce patient’s cost burden by enabling simplified testing
  • Conduct tests and treatments in small hospitals through data sharing of large testing equipment
  • Premedication prediction of the presence and severity of side effects
  • Improve clinical efficacy by accelerating approval of medicines (supporting clinical trials)
  • Prediction of risk and early detection and prevention of disease by advanced analysis of clinical findings
  • Systematic establishment of medicines and treatment methods through data collection, reproduction, and analysis of a wide variety of disease states

By bringing together accumulated data and knowledge, NCNP and NTT will begin to build a platform for processing Brain Bio-Digital Twin in FY 2024. In the next three years, the organizations plan to model several brain and nervous system functions and diseases. Subsequently, the organizations will cooperate with pharmaceutical regulations on pressing issues that require the development of effective therapeutic medicines and aim to create a practical system for the early detection and prevention of diseases; for example, accurately predicting an individual's risk for severe side effects before taking medications.

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