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Science in the Far East is being developed not only by scholars, but also by students
A young FEFU student invented a unique system that allows an anesthetic device
The project of an expanding electrode for spinal cord stimulation, the author of which is Natalya Boeva, a second year student at the FEFU School of Biomedicine, won first place in such a section of the competition held as part of the next stage of the All-Russian Startup Tour in Vladivostok as "Biological and Medical Technologies". After the end of the stage of the tour, the EastRussia correspondent met with Natalia Boeva and found out her opinion about the competition, science, project and much more.
“My project is a system that allows, without surgery, to install anesthetic devices in such a way that they retain all the advantages of flat electrodes. That is, those that are used in systems for neurostimulation - pain relief for chronic pain syndromes. When installing the system, its flat electrode is inserted into the spinal canal and located in the epideral space. That is, in fact, in the spinal canal itself. It should be noted that now there are two types of electrodes: point (similar to a rod), thin, and flat. Flat ones allow you to cover a larger area of stimulation, they are more effective and less prone to migration. But to install them, you need to cut almost half of the back - make a large incision, as well as carry out a difficult operation. A small puncture in the lumbar region, the so-called "lumbar puncture", is sufficient to place the point electrodes. The flat electrode of my system is installed with the help of a lumbar puncture through a small puncture and is opened already inside the person, ”says Natalya.
Chronic pain syndrome (CHS) is an independent neurological disease characterized by prolonged pain. Typically, CHD occurs as a result of illness or injury. There are two main approaches to the treatment of CHD: medication and with surgery, which implies the introduction of electrodes.
Natalia describes the possibilities of using the electrode developed by her as follows: “The electrode is needed for people with chronic pain syndromes, of which there are many now. 25 thousand of such patients are operated on annually. The spread of chronic pain syndromes is now even called the silent epidemic of the twenty-first century. The number of people with pain syndromes is growing at an incredible rate around the world. In this connection, centers specialized in the treatment of chronic pain operate everywhere. Medication methods (in other words, drug treatment) do not always help a person suffering from pain, while they are inconvenient to drink in large doses by the hour. If such methods do not help the patient, then they resort to neurostimulation. Its market is large enough in the world. "
According to Natalia, her project is based on research in the field of neurostimulation, currently being carried out by the School of Biomedicine in cooperation with the FEFU Medical Center, as well as on research on the material itself and the technology of its disclosure.
“The project manager is Artur Ramilevich Biktimirov, neurosurgeon. Specializing in the installation of neurostimulation systems, he brought this area of medicine to the Primorsky Territory. Initially, he worked in Tyumen. Once he noted the need to create an electrode that is inserted into the human body through a needle and opens inside it. I took his thought as a basis and began to develop a system. At first, I was engaged in the development of a mechanism for opening the electrode, then I was looking for suitable technologies. I chose among several options: opening with a "foot" or with the help of metal structures. I also chose materials and settled on active polymers. This is a fairly modern material that is used like artificial muscles. When exposed to current, polymers change their shape: bend, open, or expand. After I decided on the material, I began to work on the drawings. Now I am writing patents, ordering polymers, because I need to “probe” them and see how they behave in real life, ”Natalya shares the history of the project and her plans.
Since it is difficult for students who are still studying at the university to completely independently develop projects, more often they are assisted by more experienced scientists.
“I was assisted in the development of the system not only by the project leader, but also by the engineers of the School of Biomedicine: Anatoly Bondar and Alexander Gumovsky. These are qualified specialists - quickly grasping and understanding all the details and nuances, they helped me at the very beginning, when developing the technology itself, and then made sure that I did not abandon the project, despite the need to close the "debt" for the first course. By their example, they showed me how to work. Later, they moved away from the development of the project, as they devote themselves to their own scientific developments. Now I turned to a university teacher for help, but I am looking for new young qualified engineers to work on the project, ”Natalya says about her assistants.
Today, there are not many students who are engaged in science at the same time as their studies. However, there are various ways to attract students to research activities. Among them are Student Scientific Societies and Scientific Hours.
“I want to say 'thank you' to the Student Scientific Society of the School of Biomedicine for the informational support of the project. There are not many guys in the society, but they are all very proactive. I will say to myself that I am a person who, at some point, suddenly became interested not only in studying, but also in participating in scientific research. I remember one time I came to a meeting where Artur Ramilevich spoke. In his report, he proposed to create scientific developments in the field of neurostimulation. At the same time, he noted that he came to the Primorsky Territory because FEFU is very convenient for creating scientific developments - it is characterized by a “special” environment, on its basis the Medical Center, School of Biomedicine, Engineering and various other schools operate. After this meeting, I joined the Student Scientific Society and began to closely engage in scientific activities, ”explains Natalya her arrival in science.
“The so-called Scientific Hour is an event initiated by the FEFU Medical Center and its head physician Oleg Igorevich Pak. The doctors decided to meet the students halfway and give the students the opportunity to study the science that interests them. I combine visiting "scientific hours" with studying at the university in the specialty "Medical Biophysics". They are also attended by children who receive other specialties at the university - mainly, such as "Biochemical systems and technologies", "General medicine", "Biomedical engineering and robotics". It is not easy to master such specialties "from books", and even more so - to develop new materials for your projects. The student must see all the studied phenomena with his own eyes. "Scientific hours" were organized for this very purpose, which is why many students come to study at them. The Science Hour is held once a week, on Fridays, directly at the FEFU Medical Center. At each event, within two hours, students deserve many reports from doctors working at the center today and give their own reports on the research. At the same time, every Friday the doctors of the center not only listen to the reports of the students, but also work on their oratorical skills - they make comments on their speeches, ”Natalya says about Scientific Hours.
However, as Natalya clarifies, at the time when she began to develop her project, "Scientific hours" had not yet been held, and the Student Scientific Society helped her to come up with the idea of creating an anesthetic system, at whose meetings, which were held quite often, to work with students sometimes the current head of her project, Artur Ramilevich, came.
After completing the development of the stimulant, Natalya presented it at the All-Russian Startup Tour project competition. Where, being highly appreciated by a group of experts, he took first place in the section "Biological and Medical Technologies".
“Winning the Startup Tour gave me some impetus for further work on the project, since earlier I thought that only me and my leader needed my invention. It should be said that during the tour there were also many interesting lectures. I found the lectures on entrepreneurship especially interesting. In addition, an important event of the Tour was the so-called "Mentoring session", where speakers received an assessment or opinion about their presentations from experts from all over Russia. To speak at this event meant even more for me than to win the competition, since I voiced my report, in particular, to Moscow experts. They marked my project as promising and advised me to pursue it further. Thus, they inspired me to work on the project further, ”Natalya shares her impressions.
FEFU's capacity is sufficient to carry out research in a wide variety of areas, both exact and humanitarian sciences.
“FEFU has a large number of schools, laboratories and equipment. Almost all the equipment I need to work on a project is either in FEFU, or in the adjacent structures (for example, the Russian Academy of Sciences), or in those located outside its territory, but accessible for communication. In addition, the scientific societies of the university and the Scientific Hours of the FEFU Medical Center are of great importance for students, since they show them that the main thing is to come with their ideas to them, and then the curators will help you. Therefore, I would like to say that FEFU is a good ground for “young” science and the creation of scientific developments here depends only on the interest of the students themselves, ”Natalia expresses her opinion about FEFU.
Despite the fact that Natalya devotes a lot of time to her studies and scientific activities, she is also enough for her hobbies: playing the guitar and classes in the club of reenactors "Reflection", in which she is engaged in archery.
Natalia shared with us her plans for the near future: “All my scientific activity now consists in working on a project. As soon as I finish with patents and materials, I will develop a prototype so that you can not only talk about the system in words, but show that it actually works. After that, I will start looking for a partner to conduct clinical trials on its territory. All this, of course, requires not only a lot of time, but also money. We can say that the most difficult stage of the project is starting now. If we succeed in passing it, then all that remains is to produce and test a trial batch of the system and enter the market with it ”.