CNEURO, from scientific research to technological development
BY ROXANA CONSUEGRA, PHOTOS: JOSÉ (TITO) MERIÑO
Actively participating in the scientific technical exercise of the country, the Cuban Center for Neuroscience (CNEURO) is the institution dedicated to the research, production and marketing of advanced technologies for the diagnosis and treatment of brain dysfunctions.
In an interview granted to CubaPLUS Magazine, the Doctor in Health Sciences Roberto Rodríguez Labrada, Deputy Director of the center, explained that they are currently rolling out three research projects linked to COVID-19.
The first one consists of the study of brain and neuropsychiatric disorders caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection in people recovered from the disease.
Rodríguez Labrada expressed that as soon as the cases of COVID-19 began to spread globally in 2020, CNEURO, together with the National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery of the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) and the Cuban Academy of Science, proposed this project with the objective of analyzing and evaluating cerebral manifestations in convalescent individuals, which later on was joined by the Psychiatric Clinic “Gali García” and Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital.
For this purpose, a follow up protocol was established lasting three years that includes clinical, neuropsychological and neuropsychiatric evaluations, as well as the study of the brain’s electric activity by means of electroencephalograms (EEGs) in subjects who have been clinically and epidemiologically discharged.
These longitudinal reports surpass the international ones, in addition to the duration, by the comparative analysis of the parameters between convalescent people and individuals not infected with the virus who have received a negative RT-PCR. That is to say, that they have been suspects or contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19. These are matched according to age, sex and educational level, which allows for a more accurate comparison. Moreover, because Cuba establihed a uniform action protocol for the treatment of the disease, it is possible to study cases from different municipalities and even provinces without altering the evaluation parameters.
The second project is aimed at developing tools that improve diagnosis and prognosis, elements that allow predicting the evolution of the disease that the patient will have with greater precision. This study is based on an analysis carried out by artificial intelligence, capable of estimating, from a chest X-ray, whether or not a patient can be aggravated in the short term, which requires an analysis of a large number of X-rays.
Currently, a bank of X-rays and scans is being created at CNEURO, to which the Cuban Society of Imaging and all the hospitals that have had cases of COVID-19 in Havana and Villa Clara are contributing. Likewise, the University of Havana and the Central University of Las Villas are collaborating with CNEURO in processing the images and developing the methods of artificial intelligence.
The third research investigation consists of developing a scanner for electrical impedance, a device to evaluate lung function through the variations of resistance exerted by the rib cage to a weak electrical current applied sequentially around the patient’s thorax.
The use of this technology will facilitate continuous bedside monitoring of respiratory function, with a noninvasive method that allows instantaneous visualization of the effect of any therapeutic maneuver related to lung ventilation.
CNEURO has advanced in these investigations in record time, since the first two already have the approval of the Innovation Committee of MINSAP and BioCubaFarma. More than 150 cases have already been evaluated in the study of brain disorders, while the Artificial Intelligence study already has a standardized and automated report for the analysis of X-rays of COVID-19 patients, and the X-rays of about 10% of the country’s cases have been received.
As a result, it will be possible to describe, quantify and treat the after-effects caused by the virus thanks to the study of brain disorders; at the same time, it will be possible to estimate the progression of lung damage and see who will move to a more critical phase through artificial intelligence.
The tomograph is in the process of development, with which it will be possible to evaluate lung function from scans, an achievement that has been possible thanks to the work of the specialists of the center and other institutions, who apply daily scientific research to achieve technological development.