The National Center for Neurology and Psychiatry (NCNP) in Japan has joined forces with NTT Corporation to create a brain bio-digital twin technology for the detection and prevention of mental illnesses. This collaborative effort aims to address the lack of systematic treatment and comprehensive testing methods for mental and behavioral disorders in Japan.
The planned platform for processing digital twins is expected to be developed next year. It will gather various types of data from medical exams provided the NCNP, which is currently building a data library on mental and nervous system diseases. This data includes PET scans and biomaterials that are vital for the analysis of cranial nerve diseases.
Using NTT’s artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) processing technology, the collected data will be used to create detailed maps and biological models. These models will aid in understanding the complexities of the brain and facilitate the early detection and prevention of diseases.
The significance of this endeavor is underscored the rising number of individuals in Japan seeking treatment for mental and behavioral disorders. Currently, around five million people are known to be receiving treatment, with this number expected to increase. For example, a government study estimated that 2025, approximately 6.75 million people over the age of 65 in Japan will have dementia.
Digital twin technology offers several advantages for patients. It eliminates the need for invasive and complex testing, which reduces the physical and mental burden on individuals and minimizes costs. Additionally, the technology can predict risks and enable early detection, allowing for timely intervention and treatment. NTT and NCNP also plan to collaborate with pharmaceutical regulators to develop new therapeutic medicines and predict severe side effects of medications.
This collaboration between NCNP and NTT is part of a larger trend of utilizing digital twins in healthcare. NTT initially proposed the digital twin project to the NCNP in 2020, aiming to create a comprehensive understanding of a person’s physical and mental well-being. In a similar vein, NTT partnered with Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to advance cardiac care through cardiovascular bio-digital twins.
The adoption of digital twins in healthcare is anticipated to be widespread within the next six years, according to a survey conducted TATA Consultancy Services. Singapore is also exploring the use of digital twin technology in healthcare, utilizing it for predicting and monitoring disease outbreaks, as well as optimizing resource allocation and healthcare facility planning within the SingHealth system.
Sources: National Center for Neurology and Psychiatry (NCNP), NTT Corporation, TATA Consultancy Services.