MINERVA: Communication Theoretical Foundations of Nervous System Towards Bio-Inspired Nanonetworks and ICT-Inspired Neuro-Treatment

|| Funded by: ERC Consolidator Grant

|| Period: February 2014 - February 2019

|| Amount: 1.8M Euro

“There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom.” This statement was made by Nobel laureate physicist Richard Feynman in his famous speech describing his vision on the possibility of manipulating individual atoms and molecules to realize increasingly tinier, and yet powerful, practical man-made devices in the future. Indeed, incredible improvements in the field of nanotechnology have yielded integrated functional devices consisting of nanoscale components, i.e., nanomachines. Nanomachines used in applications today typically operate independently and accomplish tasks ranging from computing and data storing to sensing and actuation. However, enabling nanomachines to communicate with each other, and thus, form nanonetworks will help realize envisioned nanotechnology applications demanding more than the capabilities of a single device. At this point, with the encouragement of the progresses in nanotechnology, we dare to ask the question “is the room down there sufficient for a communication network?” Then, we turn to nature again, and hence, become motivated to start a quest for an answer to this profound question, which defines the main framework of the MINERVA Project and sets its objectives beyond visual boundaries.

 

 

Some applications of nanonetworks, among others, are: a number of nanomachines communicating for intelligent drug delivery; multiple nanosensors deployed on the human body to monitor glucose, sodium, and cholesterol; detecting the presence of different infectious agents. However, realization of these applications mandates addressing the unique challenges posed by the physical characteristics of nanomachines, e.g., dimensions, scarce memory and processing capabilities, and their operating environment, on the nanoscale communications.

 

Several communication paradigms are considered for use in nanonetworks, but the most promising is molecular communications, where molecules are used to encode, transmit and receive information. It is promising because: (i) molecular communication between nanoscale entities occurs in nature, thus, such natural phenomena offers a readymade studying ground both to model nanonetworks and to develop solutions; and (ii) several of the aforementioned applications require bio-compatibility which therefore necessitates properties that are readily offered by natural molecular nanonetworks.

 

 

The realization of molecular nanonetworks, however, demands novel engineering solutions, i.e., identification of the existing molecular communication mechanisms, development of architectures and networking techniques for nanomachines. Luckily, these engineering skills and technology have been prepared for us by the natural evolution in the last several billion years. Thus, the answers that we seek in this project are already inside us.

 

Indeed, the human body is a large-scale heterogeneous communication network of molecular nanonetworks as it is composed of billions of nanomachines, i.e., cells, whose functionalities primarily depend on nanoscale molecular communications. Human body systems, e.g., nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine systems, the five senses, are connected to each other and communicate primarily through molecular communications. Among the intra-body systems, the most advanced and complex one is the nervous system, which is the ultra-large scale communication network of nerve cells, i.e., neurons. The nervous nanonetwork transmits the external stimulus to the brain and enables communication between different systems by conveying information with electro-molecular impulse signal known as spike. As a complex network of nanonetworks spanning the whole body, the nervous system is the most vital communication network of human body. Any communication failure that is beyond the recovery capabilities of this network leads to serious neural diseases; e.g., multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s disease, and paralysis. Thus, sustaining effective communication capabilities in the nervous nanonetwork is imperative for the functional and metabolic efficiency of the human body. Furthermore, understanding disorders caused by communication failures paves the way for the possible development of a new generation of information and communication technology (ICT)-inspired treatment techniques. In addition, identifying the existing nervous molecular communication mechanisms, establishing the communication and information theoretical foundations of these communication channels, will be a giant step towards developing real implementable architectures, e.g., bio-inspired communication techniques for emerging applications of nanonetworks and ICT-based prosthetic systems with neural communication capabilities.

 

 

In the MINERVA project, that has been awarded the European Research Council’s (ERC) consolidator grant, which constitutes Europe's most prestigious research funding programme, and has previously been received by many Nobel Award winning scientists, we primarily focus on nervous nanonetwork because: (i) it is the most vital and the largest intra-body nanonetwork spanning the entire body with the most advanced intrinsic communication functionalities, (ii) although extensive research efforts are directed towards understanding the mechanism of nervous system from the perspectives of physiology and neuroscience; information and communication theoretical fundamentals of the nervous nanonetwork and extraction of its intrinsic design principles to be used in future nanonetwork applications are overlooked, and (iii) there exists a vast amount of results in neurophysiology, which could be exploited by the elegant theories and tools of ICT domain.

 

Thus, realistically modelling the nervous molecular communication channels, analyzing and understanding its network and communication theoretical capabilities and shortcomings, and ultimately contributing to the development of bio-inspired solutions for nanonetworks and ICT-inspired solutions for neural diseases are the interdisciplinary objectives of the MINERVA project. The project will bridge the gap between communication engineering and life sciences, and create important collaboration opportunities. With the parallel progress of medical sciences and communication engineering, a major breakthrough can be expected from this exceptionally interdisciplinary approach.

 

 

Publications

    [Submitted Papers]
    1. M. Kuscu, O. B. Akan, "Modeling Convection-Diffusion-Reaction Systems for Microfluidic Molecular Communications with Surface-based Receivers in Internet of Bio-Nano Things," 2017.
    2. M. Kuscu, O. B. Akan, "Maximum Likelihood Detection with Ligand Receptors for Diffusion-Based Molecular Communications in Internet of Bio-Nano Things," 2017.
    3. N. A. Abbasi, B. A. Bilgin, O. B. Akan, "The Nervous NaNoNetwork Simulator N4Sim for Molecular Communication in Nervous System," 2017.
    4. T. Khan, O. B. Akan, "Information Capacity of Multiple-Access Synaptic Molecular Communication Channel Under Metabolic Cost Constraint," 2016.
    5. N. A. Abbasi, D. Lafci, O. B. Akan, "Nervous System as a Communication Channel: The First Practical Controlled Information Transfer Through Neurons," 2016.
    6. N. A. Abbasi, O. B. Akan, "An Information Theoretical Analysis of Molecular Communications in Human Insulin-Glucose System for Internet of Bio-Nano Things," 2016.
    7. C. Koca, O. Ergul, O. B. Akan, "Information Theoretic Modeling of Paranodal Regions in Myelinated Axons," 2016.
    8. H. Ramezani, O. B. Akan, "Effects of Spike Shape Variation on Synaptic Communication Channel," 2016.
    9. B. Gulbahar, O. B. Akan, "A Communication Theoretical Modelling and Analysis of Wireless Nanoscale Magneto-Inductive Communication with Carbon Nanotube NanoCoils," 2015.
    10. D. Malak, H. Ramezani, O. B. Akan, "Adaptive Weight Update in Cortical Neurons and Estimation of Channel Weights in Synaptic Interference Channel," 2015.
    [Journal Papers]
    1. B. A. Bilgin, O. B. Akan, "A Fast Algorithm for Analysis of Molecular Communication in an Artificial Synapse," to appear in IEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience, 2017.
    2. C. Koca, O. B. Akan, "Anarchy vs. Cooperation on Internet of Molecular Things," to appear in IEEE Internet of Things Journal, 2017.
    3. T. Khan, B. A. Bilgin, O. B. Akan, "Diffusion-based Model for Synaptic Molecular Communication Channel," to appear in IEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience, 2017.
    4. E. Dinc, O. B. Akan, "Theoretical Limits on Multiuser Molecular Communication in Internet of Nano-Bio Things,” to appear in IEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience, 2017.
    5. H. Ramezani, O. B. Akan, "A Communication Theoretical Modeling of Axonal Propagation in Hippocampal Pyramidal Neurons," to appear in IEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience, 2017.
    6. O. B. Akan, H. Ramezani, T. Khan, N. A. Abbasi, M. Kuscu, "Fundamentals of Molecular Information and Communication Science," Proceedings of the IEEE, vol. 105, no. 2, pp. 306-318, February 2017.
    7. M. Kuscu, O. B. Akan, "Modeling and Analysis of SiNW FET-Based Molecular Communication Receiver," IEEE Transactions on Communications, vol. 64, no. 9, pp. 3708-3721, September 2016.
    8. M. Kuscu, O. B. Akan, "On the Physical Design of Molecular Communication Receiver Based on Nanoscale Biosensors," IEEE Sensors Journal, vol. 16, no. 8, pp. 2228-2243, April 2016.
    9. M. Kuscu, O. B. Akan, "The Internet of Molecular Things Based on FRET," IEEE Internet of Things Journal, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 4-17, February 2016.
    10. N. A. Abbasi, O. B. Akan, "A Queueing-Theoretical Delay Analysis for Intra-body Nervous Nanonetworks," Nano Communication Networks Journal (Elsevier), vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 166-177, December 2015.
    11. M. Kuscu, A. Kiraz, O. B. Akan, "Fluorescent Molecules as Transceiver Nanoantennas: The First Practical and High-Rate Information Transfer over a Nanoscale Communication Channel based on FRET," Nature Scientific Reports, vol. 5, pp. 7831, January 2015.
    12. D. Malak, O. B. Akan, "Communication Theoretical Understanding of Intra-body Nervous Nanonetworks," IEEE Communications Magazine, vol. 52, no. 4, pp. 129-135, April 2014.
    13. D. Kilinc, O. B. Akan, "Receiver Design for Molecular Communication," IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications (JSAC), vol. 31, no. 12, pp. 705-714, December 2013.
    14. D. Malak, M. Kocaoglu, O. B. Akan, "Communication Theoretic Analysis of Synaptic Channel for Cortical Neurons," Nano Communication Networks Journal (Elsevier), vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 131-141, September 2013.
    15. D. Malak, O. B. Akan, "A Communication Theoretical Analysis of Synaptic Multiple-Access Channel in Hippocampal-Cortical Neurons," IEEE Transactions on Communications, vol. 61, no. 6, pp. 2457-2467, June 2013.
    16. E. Balevi, O. B. Akan, "A Physical Channel Model for Nanoscale Neuro-Spike Communication," IEEE Transactions on Communications, vol. 61, no. 3, pp. 1178-1187, March 2013.
    17. B. D. Unluturk, D. Malak, O. B. Akan, "Rate-Delay Tradeoff with Network Coding in Molecular Nanonetworks," IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 120-128, March 2013.
    18. D. Kilinc, O. B. Akan, "An Information Theoretical Analysis of Nanoscale Molecular Gap Junction Communication Channel Between Cardiomyocytes," IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 129-136, March 2013.
    19. B. Atakan, S. Balasubramaniam, O. B. Akan, "Body Area NanoNetworks with Molecular Communications in Nanomedicine," IEEE Communications Magazine, vol. 50, no. 1, pp. 28-34, January 2012.
    20. D. Malak, O. B. Akan, "Molecular Communication Nanonetworks inside Human Body," Nano Communication Networks Journal (Elsevier), vol.3, no.1, pp. 19-35, 2012.
    21. E. Gul, B. Atakan, O. B. Akan, "NanoNS: A Nanoscale Network Simulator Framework for Molecular Communications," Nano Communication Networks Journal (Elsevier), vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 138-156, June 2010.
    22. B. Atakan, O. B. Akan, "Deterministic Capacity of Information Flow in Molecular Nanonetworks," Nano Communication Networks Journal (Elsevier), vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 31-42, March 2010.
    23. B. Atakan, O. B. Akan, "On Channel Capacity and Error Compensation in Molecular Communication", Springer Transactions on Computational Systems Biology, vol. 10, pp. 59-80, February 2008.
    [Conference Papers]
    1. H. Ramezani, H. Khaki, E. Erzin, O. B. Akan, "Telemonitoring of Parkinson's Disease Symptoms from Speech Features," to appear in Proc. IEEE EMBC 2017, JeJu Island, S. Korea, July 2017.
    2. H. Ramezani, O. B. Akan, "Importance of Vesicle Release Stochasticity in Neuro-spike Communication," to appear in Proc. IEEE EMBC 2017, JeJu Island, S. Korea, July 2017.
    3. H. Ramezani, C. Koca, O. B. Akan, "Rate Region Analysis of Multi-terminal Neuronal Nanoscale Communication Channel," to appear in Proc. IEEE Nano 2017, Pittsburgh, USA, July 2017.
    4. M. Kuscu, O. B. Akan, "On the Capacity of Diffusion-Based Molecular Communications with SiNW FET-Based Receiver," to appear in Proc. IEEE EMBC 2016, Orlando, FL, USA, August 2016.
    5. D. Malak, H. Ramezani, M. Kocaoglu, O. B. Akan, "Diversity in Diffusion-based Molecular Communication Channel with Drift," to appear in Proc. IEEE ICC 2016, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 2016.
    6. M. Kuscu, O. B. Akan, "Modeling and Analysis of SiNW BioFET as Molecular Antenna for Bio-Cyber Interfaces towards the Internet of Bio-NanoThings," in Proc. IEEE WF-IoT 2015, Milan, Italy, December 2015.
    7. H. Ramezani, O. B. Akan, "Synaptic Channel Model Including Effects of Spike Width Variation," in Proc. ACM NANOCOM 2015, Boston, MA, USA, September 2015.
    8. B. D. Unluturk, E. B. Pehlivanoglu, O. B. Akan, "Molecular Channel Model with Multiple-Bit Carrying Molecules," in Proc. IEEE BlackSeaCom 2013, Batumi, Georgia, July 2013.
    9. D. Malak, O. B. Akan, "Synaptic Interference Channel," in Proc. IEEE MoNaCom 2013 (in conjunction with IEEE ICC 2013), Budapest, Hungary, June 2013.
    10. B. Atakan, O. B. Akan, "Single and Multiple-Access Channel Capacity in Molecular Nanonetworks," in Proc. ICST/ACM Nano-Net 2009, Luzern, Switzerland, October 2009.
    11. B. Atakan, O. B. Akan, "An Information Theoretical Approach for Molecular Communication," in Proc. ICST/ACM BIONETICS 2007, Budapest, Hungary, December 2007.
    [Theses]
    1. B. D. Unluturk, "An information theoretical study on nanoscale communication channels with molecule diversity", M.Sc. Thesis, Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey, 2013.
    2. D. Kilinc, "Information and Communication Theoretical Modeling, Design, and Analysis of Hetetogeneous Nanoscale Communication Channels", M.Sc. Thesis, Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey, 2013.
    3. D. Malak, "Intra-Body Molecular Communications: A Theoretical Study on Synaptic Multiple-Access Channel", M.Sc. Thesis, Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey, 2013.
    4. B. Atakan, "Bio-inspired Communication Theories and Techniques for Next-Generation Networks", Ph.D. Thesis, Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey, 2011.