Skip to main content


DEEPER is a research project funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation actions (RIA) scheme under grant agreement no.101016787.

DEEPER project (Deep Brain Photonic Tools for Cell-Type Specific Targeting of Neural Diseases) clusters technological, neuroscientific and clinical experts together with innovative start-ups and leading companies with the aim of developing photonic tools for imaging and manipulating of the neuronal activity in deep brain regions. The long-term vision of the project is to exploit photonics for meeting medical and research needs in revealing the molecular and cellular dysfunctions underlying the pathogenesis of neurological diseases. These goals will result in less invasive and more effective treatments of dramatic social impacting pathologies, such as Alzheimer’s disease, depression, schizophrenia.

DEEPER project will pursue the following object:

  • Development of molecular photonic tools with enhanced sensitivity, specifically designed to target sub-cortical neurotransmitters in specific cells of brain and their related neural circuits involved in addiction, pain, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and autism spectrum disorders.

  • Development of neurotransmitters-specific molecular photo-switchable tools, with the aim of manipulating neurotransmitter action without the need of genetic modification.

  • Development of wireless active and passive implantable probes to interface with groups of neurons, for simultaneous light delivery, light collection, electrophysiology and drug delivery in specific sub-cortical brain regions.

  • Development of advanced multifunctional endoscopes providing high spatio-temporal sub-cellular resolution.

  • Apply the developed technologies, exploiting the new access to subcortical structures, to study the cellular mechanism underlying the pathogenesis of multiple brain disorders.

  • Accelerate the developed tools and project results to market, via startups and market leaders.

This vision is targeted by twelve research institutes, universities and startups distributed in Italy, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Germany, Czech Republic, France, Israel, Spain and Belgium: