Jan 17, 2018 - Student life
Ready, Steady, Neurostart: FEFU students presented new bioengineering projects

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Students of Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) presented new medical projects within the Neurostart neural engineering cluster. This is the leader project of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI), aimed at the formation of developer teams in bioengineering at FEFU. Prototypes of prostheses, exoskeleton, neurostimulators, and medical software are still being created, but they are already of interest to manufacturers and users.

Alpha Team is developing an active foot for a lower limb prosthesis. The students started to work in this direction more than a year ago: they have already created three models of artificial foot and they are constructing the fourth one now. By design, the prosthesis should be controlled with the help of the rest of the muscles on the residual limb and get more flexion than the existing analogues.

Continuing this theme, Polina Bezrukavaya, student at the FEFU School of Biomedicine, decided to develop a neural interface for prosthesis tactile sensing. An implantable electrode will allow a patient to receive all the necessary information about the objects to which s/he touches. Students of Handsome Team plan to create a personal rehabilitation exoskeleton of the upper limb. It differs from the existing ones in that it covers the whole arm, including the shoulder joint, helps to avoid injuries and to provide additional support.

Mikhail Lyamaev, student at the FEFU School of Natural Sciences, develops the first domestic neurostimulators for the treatment of dystonia, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, tremor, and chronic pain syndromes. A separate set of project is dedicated to the creation of medical software. Lambda Team is working on a software analyzer for computer and magnetic resonance imaging. It will help surgeons in operations on the brain: by using the downloaded files it will automatically determine the structure of the brain and detect pathological changes by creating their 3D model. Parkinsoft, the client-server application for doctors and people with Parkinson's disease, will allow the patient to always stay in touch with the doctor.

“At the moment, there is no industrial production of prostheses of the lower extremities in Russia, there are no Russian neurostimulators. In principle, everything that our students do, exists only in its infancy in the country so far. In the future, the guys can create serious design teams that will give life to new industries,” said Arthur Biktimirov, Neurostart Project Leader, neurosurgeon of the FEFU Medical Center.

Partners have already become interested in student developments. For example, Motorika Ltd.—the leading Russian based manufacturer of prostheses—is ready to join the project to create a neurointerface for prosthetic sensing, and the FEFU Medical Center plans to adopt the rehabilitation exoskeleton. Now the teams are looking for investors and enthusiasts from different academic fields: software developers, engineers, designers, as well as marketers and entrepreneurs who will help attract investment and promote projects.

“The projects are developing, although there are very few engineers, economists, designers and other experts in some of them,” says Alexander Bazhin, Neurostart Project Manager. “But there is already an agreement with the School of Engineering, the School of Economics and Management, and the School of Art, Culture and Sport that their students will join the teams and will be able to contribute to the future developments.”

Neurostart has become a continuation of the FEFU Battle of Engineers: the FEFU student competitions, in which teams created the first prototype of bionic prostheses of the upper and lower extremities and a muscle electrostimulator. In 2017, the project enlisted the support of the ASI and has entered a new level, thus forming a neural engineering cluster at the university.