Cambridge Consultants and Neuro Engineering Technologies Research Institute (NETRI) announce a breakthrough in precision imaging of brain activity. Working with NETRI’s brain-on-a-chip technology and lensless imaging approach that detects the activity of neurons in brain tissue, Cambridge Consultants was able to accelerate the processing of individual images by over three orders of magnitude, moving from about 20 minutes to process an image to just hundreds of milliseconds. This step-change in speed opens up radical new possibilities, including real-time processing of neural activity and mimicking of neural activity on engineered platforms, supporting the development of novel treatments for conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

We design disruptive technology to revolutionize diagnosis and treatment

Organ-on-a-chip is an emerging and highly promising area of biomedical research. The technology involves the ex-vivo (outside of the body) simulation of organ function on a chip. The ultimate promise of such technologies is to greatly reduce the time and cost of testing new therapies for safety and efficacy. Brain-on-a-chip technologies seek to apply this approach to the neural circuitry of the brain, the most complex organ in the human body.

French startup NETRI creates disruptive technologies for brain-on-a-chip applications in neuroscience. Its focus is on ex-vivo replication of human neural circuits in order to understand how neurological disorders, treatments and chemicals affect the brain. NETRI uses a combination of brain-on-a-chip technology and lensless microscopy to record the activity of millions of connected neurons, mimicking the neural circuits implicated in neurological disorders.

However, by detecting something as complex as neural activity, the approach generates an enormous amount of data, requiring many hours of computation effort in order to fully reconstruct the spatio-temporal map of neuron communication. The imaging system runs at approximately 1,000 frames per second, and the baseline algorithm took an average of 1,090 seconds – 18 minutes – to process a single image on a powerful desktop PC. Without improvement, a single second of recording can take 12 days to process.

Recognizing its world-class expertise in medical imaging and high-performance computation, NETRI approached Cambridge Consultants to address this bottleneck, challenging the company to develop a radical algorithm acceleration. A scientific imaging team was set to work within the company’s Data Lab, an on-site facility with state-of-the-art compute infrastructure, allowing rapid exploration of data and compute-heavy approaches, such as high-definition imaging and deep learning.

Cambridge Consultants selected the NVIDIA DGX POD architecture for their AI infrastructure, deploying the NetApp ONTAP AI solution that combines NVIDIA DGX-1™ with NetApp ONTAP storage and network fabric. Through a series of optimizations, the team was able to show that the NVIDIA DGX-1 system delivers the AI supercomputing power required to process a frame in an average of 0.3 seconds, around 3,000 times quicker than the original approach. This acceleration was achieved through a series of optimizations including the design and application of mathematical and algorithmic improvements, leveraging NumPY GPU-accelerated with RAPIDS (CuPy), and exploiting the sheer power of the DGX-1 system. The combined result enables NETRI to completely reimagine their approach and to set their sights on the most radical possibilities, including developing a fully scalable and real-time medical service for hospitals and pharmaceutical industries to perform both in-vitro diagnostics and personalized treatment for every patient suffering from a neurological condition.

Sally Epstein, Head of Strategic Technology at Cambridge Consultants, commented: “Lensless imaging replaces traditional optics with computation, creating a new set of optimization challenges that our team was excited to address. We’re proud to be at the leading-edge of developments in brain-on-a-chip technology and neural imaging, at the point where radical improvements can be unlocked by those with the right combination of vision, experience and compute power.”

Thibault Honegger, Chief Scientific Officer, President & Co-founder of NETRI, commented: “By combining the expertise of Cambridge Consultants with NVIDIA-based computational power, the real-time processing of neural communications becomes possible. This can mark a paradigm shift in assessing the functional aspects of in-vitro neural networks. With this level of resolution, we will be able to accurately measure the “wellness” of the network, in relation to neurological conditions and potential recovery.”

Notes to editors

ケンブリッジコンサルタンツは、画期的な製品開発、知的所有権の創出や供与、技術的な難題に対するビジネスコンサルティングを、世界中のお客様に向けて行っています。市場初となる製品の立ち上げや新規市場参入、新技術導入による既存市場の拡大など、お客様がビジネスチャンスを成功へと変えるお手伝いを60年以上にわたり継続してきました。英国ケンブリッジ、米国ボストン、東京、シンガポールに、エンジニアや科学者、数学者やデザイナーを含む900名以上のスタッフを擁し、医療技術、産業および消費者向け製品、デジタルヘルス、エネルギー、ワイヤレス通信などの多様な分野におけるソリューションを提供いたします。詳細はwww.cambridgeconsultants.com/jpをご参照ください。

ケンブリッジコンサルタンツはアルトラン(Altran)の一員です。 アルトランは、エンジニアリングおよびR&Dサービスにおいて広く認められた世界的リーダーであり、変革とイノベーションの課題に対応する独自の価値提案をお客様に提供しています。コンセプト創造から産業化に至るまで、アルトランはお客様が明日の製品やサービスを開発するサポートをいたします。35年以上にわたり、自動車、航空、宇宙、防衛および海軍、鉄道、インフラと輸送、産業と消費者製品、生命科学、通信、半導体と電子機器、ソフトウェアおよびインターネット、金融および公共部門など、様々なお客様を支援してきました。今日、アルトランは30か国以上に50,000人を超える従業員を擁し、コンサルティング、デジタルトランスフォーメーション、テクノロジー&エンジニアリングサービスのグローバルリーダーであるキャップジェミニ(Capgemini)の中核を担っています。キャップジェミニ・グループはイノベーションの最前線に立ち、進化を続けるクラウド、デジタル及び各種プラットフォーム分野で、顧客のあらゆるビジネス機会に対応致します。キャップジェミニは、50年以上にわたり蓄積してきた優れた実績と業界固有の専門知識を基に、戦略から運用まで、一連のサービスを通じて、企業が目指すビジネスビジョンの実現を支援しています。キャップジェミニの信念は、「テクノロジーに関わるビジネス価値は人を通じて具現化される」ことであり、この信念こそが社の原動力となっています。キャップジェミニは、世界約50か国270,000人に及ぶチームメンバーで構成される多文化企業であり、アルトランを含むグループ全体の2019年度売上は、170億ユーロです。People matter, results count.(人にこだわり、成果にコミット。)アルトランの詳細はwww.altran.com をご参照ください。

NETRI has unique expertise and technologies in microfluidics engineering. NETRI designs, fabricates and exploits 3D microfluidics chips dedicated to neuroscience, aiming at understanding the structural and functional mechanistic of neural circuits, neurological disorders or potential novel treatments. Using a multi-compartments approach, we can reproduce in vitro neural networks of every complexity up to connectome-on-chip. Using rodent or iPSCs cells, physiologically relevant conditions can be replicated using NETRI’s NeurofluidicTM chips: Multi-nodes neural/non neural interfaces, neural circuits of every complexity, controlled structural connectivity, functional network recording, co-cultures in all nodes with fluid isolation, controlled microenvironment with disease-related injury, high-throughput microscopy compliance and small amount of reagents. 

NETRI currently collaborates with pharmaceutical companies, CROs, academic researchers and medical doctors to accelerate the understanding of neural troubles mechanisms and the discoveries of new treatments. For further information: www.netri.fr/ 

NETRI 
Thibault Honegger 
Chief Scientific Officer, President & co-founder 
+33 48762 8118 
pr@netri.fr 

  • ai
  • artificial intelligence
  • nvidia
  • imaging
  • medical technology

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