PALO ALTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Inscopix, Inc., a leading neurotechnology company in California that empowers breakthroughs in brain science, today announced the publication of the first demonstration of its miniature microscope (miniscope)-based wearable brain imaging device, nVista™, to perform real-time measurements of large-scale neural activity in behaving rhesus macaques. Establishing this powerful platform for use in non-human primates (NHPs) promises to advance the understanding of human brain function in health and disease and should significantly inform and accelerate the development of next-generation precision interventions for neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders— including therapeutics, deep brain stimulation (DBS) and brain-computer interfaces (BCIs).
In the demonstration, Inscopix’s head-mounted miniscope device was used to simultaneously record calcium dynamics, a proxy for neural activity, from over 100 genetically targeted neurons in the dorsal premotor cortex of macaques performing naturalistic motor behaviors. Researchers were able to repeatedly image activity from the same neurons during sessions spanning multiple months – allowing for longitudinal tracking of neural ensemble dynamics and their relationship to specific behaviors. Neural activity selective for different directions of arm movements was observed and could be used to decode the animal’s reach behavior on individual trials with over 85% accuracy.
“Non-human primates are highly similar to humans in terms of their brain structure and the complex behavior and higher cognitive functions they exhibit,” said Jonathan Nassi, Ph.D., Senior Director of Translational Science at Inscopix and a senior author on the study. “Longitudinal recordings from genetically-defined neuronal populations in behaving NHPs will accelerate progress toward understanding human brain function and behavior, as well as provide clinically-relevant insight into a broad range of neuropsychiatric and neurological conditions that lack effective treatment options today.”
Beyond a better understanding of human brain disorders, the capabilities enabled by this study open the door to future applications in NHPs that will inform the development of more precise and sophisticated DBS and BCI approaches. Despite significant advances in these device-based therapeutics for treating motor dysfunction (e.g., Parkinson’s disease, following spinal cord injury), further progress will likely be slowed due to limitations inherent to the industry’s current reliance on electrical-based measurements which sample or stimulate brain tissue relatively sparsely and are blind to the genetic identity and spatial micro-organization of the constituent neurons.
“Optical-based miniscope measurements in NHPs have strong potential toward better understanding the local cellular effects of DBS and optimizing stimulation protocols to increase therapeutic impact,” said Jose Carmena, Ph.D., Professor of Electrical Engineering and Neuroscience at UC Berkeley, Co-Director of the Center for Neural Engineering and Prostheses at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco and a senior author on the study. “These measurements will also provide valuable information toward the design of future clinically-viable neurotechnologies, and should deliver exciting opportunities for algorithmic and signal processing advances.”
While today the nVista system is widely used in preclinical animal models to inform the development and optimization of BCI for human use, it aims for a future in the clinic. Given the rapid advancement of human gene therapies targeting the brain, which use the same viruses necessary to express genetically encoded activity sensors for nVista imaging, few barriers remain toward the future development of optical-based BCIs in humans.
“The nVista system, with its full HD sensor, has already proven capable of longitudinal recordings from upwards of 1,000 neurons in deep brain regions of freely behaving animals,” said Kunal Ghosh, Ph.D., CEO of Inscopix. “With improved communication and high bandwidth interfaces, we expect a future system to approach a 10 Gbps data rate capable of recordings from over 10,000 neurons. This puts us on par with the leading electrophysiology-based technologies fueling BCIs, but with the important advantages of an optical-based approach that enables higher density recordings from genetically annotated neurons tracked over time.”
This study was conducted at the California National Primate Research Center, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, University of California, Davis, and the University of California, Berkeley. The publication, titled “Head-mounted microendoscopic calcium imaging in dorsal premotor cortex of behaving rhesus macaque,” was first made available online on June 15, 2021 in the journal Cell Reports.
Bollimunta, A., Santacruz, S.R., Eaton, R.W., Xu, P.S., Morrison, J.H., Moxon, K.A., Carmena, J.M., Nassi, J.J. (2021) Head-mounted microendoscopic calcium imaging in dorsal premotor cortex of behaving rhesus macaque, Cell Reports, 35(11), 109239. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109239
About nVista™ and nVoke™ systems
nVista and nVoke systems are Inscopix’s state-of-the-art miniature microscope-based solutions for imaging and manipulation of large-scale neural circuit dynamics in freely behaving subjects. With nVista and nVoke, researchers at leading research institutions worldwide are pushing the frontiers of neuroscience and asking entirely new questions about how neural circuits shape cognition and behavior in health and disease. To date, the Inscopix technology has been leveraged in over 500 academic and industry laboratories and has empowered more than 150 scientific applications. For more information, please visit https://www.inscopix.com/nvista
About Inscopix, Inc.
Inscopix empowers the development of next-generation therapeutics for difficult-to-treat brain disorders by enabling innovative research and predictive preclinical therapeutic development. Driven by a North Star of overcoming historic challenges in the field, Inscopix provides validated solutions for real-time mapping of neural activity in brain circuits. These objective, quantitative and in-brain assays are catalyzing unprecedented insights into disease mechanisms and have been shown to be more accurate at predicting clinical efficacy than animal behavior when testing a therapeutic candidate’s capacity to bring the brain back to a normal state. Inscopix’s partner and customer discoveries help decode the brain, inform deeper understanding of mechanisms of action and enable the screening of drugs based on efficacy. For more information, please visit http://www.inscopix.com