Development of novel tools to investigate deep brain structures at ISI CAS


New international project “DEEPER” (Deep Brain Photonic Tools for Cell-Type Specific Targeting of Neural Diseases) has been launched on 1st January 2021. This endeavour clusters experts from Italy, Switzerland, Great Britain, Germany, France, Israel, Spain, Belgium and the Czech Republic in the field of engineering, neuroscience and clinical practice together with innovative start-ups and established companies. The primary goal is to develop novel photonic tools for imaging and controlling of neuronal activity in deep brain structures. The long-term vision of the project is the exploitation of the developed tools in an effort of revealing molecular and cellular dysfunctions underlying the pathogenesis of neurological diseases. These efforts will yield less invasive and more effective treatments for pathologies with a dramatic social impact, such as the Alzheimer’s disease, depression or schizophrenia.
Hana Uhlířová, Petra Ondráčková and Tomáš Čižmár, members of the Complex photonics laboratory of the Institute of Scientific Instruments have been developing multi-functional minimally invasive endoscopes for pre-clinical research for several years before joining the DEEPER project.  “We have been developing new class of holographic endoscopes with probes consisting of a single multi-mode optical fiber with thickness of a human hair”, introduces the focus of his group Tomáš Čižmár. “These devices are unique with their unprecedented ratio of resolution and impact to the tissue and are therefore ideally suited for imaging of miniscule brain structures residing deep under the cortex. Those structures cannot be currently resolved by other optical methods. In this project we will be implementing the optical imaging together with electrophysiological recordings and tissue stimulation using optogenetics”, adds Hana Uhlířová.
DEEPER is financed by European Union under the Horizon 2020, Research and Innovation actions scheme, project no. 101016787. More information about the project can be found at


Model vlákna  Deeper

The left figure shows a model of the endoscope probe inserted into the brain tissue with labelled neurons.  Figures on the right demonstrate examples of signals attainable using this endoscopic probe.