How to improve prediction, diagnosis and treatment to fight mental disorders and strengthen brain health?

The human brain is the central organ of the nervous system and is therefore one of the most important organs in the human body. Our brains give us the ability to remember, learn, concentrate and maintain physiological and emotional well-being.

Although we live in a world that knows the importance of looking after both the physiological and psychological aspects of the human brain, more and more people are diagnosed with mental disorders and neurological diseases. The European Brain Council estimates that the cost of brain disorders in Europe reaches €800bn each year and that one in three citizens will experience a brain disorder during their life.

As we live longer, our brains work for longer and that also has an impact on the level of disorders we will experience, the new challenges we will face in tackling them and the cost of treating them.

Wild Card is looking for new ways and tools to help make our brains stronger for longer and fight against the increase in disorders.

How to improve prediction, diagnosis and treatment to fight mental disorders and strengthen brain health?

A healthy brain is what allows us to remember, learn, play, concentrate, navigate, and otherwise thrive in the world around us. With age and disease, however, brain health can deteriorate. Neurological and mental disorders can occur at any stage in life, from early childhood to adulthood, and are increasingly common. Despite this reality, in many parts of the world treatment is inadequate and sometimes even non-existent. Many people unnecessarily suffer symptoms of cognitive impairment or mental illness, which can lead to long-term motor deficits, confusion, memory loss and depression. Failure to adequately treat patients has knock-on effects on national healthcare: mood disorders like depression cost EU Member States €113.4 billion a year, dementia-type diseases like Alzheimer’s €105.2 billion, and psychotic disorders €93.9 billion. As populations grow and live longer, and chronic illness becomes more widespread, these problems will become especially pronounced.

How to improve prediction, diagnosis and treatment to fight mental disorders and strengthen brain health?

We know that brain health is about keeping the brain in optimal condition and helping to reduce the risks of disease as you age:

  • Although the origins of many brain disorders are not yet fully understood, researchers are increasingly coming to appreciate the impact of contributing factors like cigarette smoking, midlife high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and prior cerebrovascular disease.
  • Preventative factors include active social engagement, physical exercise, progressing with higher education and activities that require or stimulate the mind.
  • Interventions could be aimed at countering contributing factors or improving preventative factors that delay brain health issues.
  • Early diagnosis, too, gives individuals a better chance of receiving appropriate care, and the opportunity to participate in novel clinical trials. Here, emerging technologies like big data may improve diagnosis, treatment and prevention.


The idea

Novel extracellular vesicle (EV) detection method based on an artificial intelligence.

The team

Initially formed from a collaboration between the INESC TEC and Associated Laboratory coordinated by INESC Porto, iLOF have been working together for five years. Mehak joined the team following the 2019 Wild Card hackathon.

  • Luis Valente
  • Joana Paiva
  • Paula Sampaio
  • Mehak Mumtaz


The idea

Theranostic imaging system targeting necrosis in the brain.

The team

Formed in 2018, PANThera is a collaboration between the Erasmus University Medical Centre (ErasmusMC) in Rotterdam, the CRIB (Interdisciplinary Research Centre on Biomaterials) of the University of Naples Federico II, and the start-up company Kyme NanoImaging srl.

  • Kranthi Panth
  • Clemens Löwik
  • Alfonso Maria Ponsiglione
  • Enza Torino


The idea

Post-operative cognitive dysfunction risk score assessment.

The team

Nayeli, John and Nick met at the Swiss private hospital Klinik Hirslanden. The trio have since worked together on ideas for a viable business focused on solving the problems of post-operative cognitive decline. Benjamin joined the team following the 2019 Wild Card hackathon.

  • John Klepper
  • Benjamin Dodsworth
  • Nayeli Schmutz

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