The SOMA project, led by Prof. Loredana Zollo, of the Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma (UCBM), and funded by the European Commission within the H2020-FETOPEN-2018-2020 programme (https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/899822), gets into the thick of things. A highly challenging study in the field of upper limb neuroprostheses: SOMA aims at developing novel low-invasive bidirectional interface based on ultrasound probes and algorithms enabling the decoding of muscular activity and the sensing of close-to-natural somatic sensations.
The first meeting between the 7 partners involved in the SOMA project took place on October 28th. An international network of partners collaborates to the project: Fraunhofer-Institut für Biomedizinische Technik will develop the ultrasound (US) probes, University College of London will develop the miniaturized electronics, Imperial College London will investigate the myoelectric control based on US recording of the prosthesis, Università di Napoli “Federico II” will develop an in vitro model of the muscles and of the somatosensory system for the experimental validation of the US interfaces, Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona will perform tests of biocompatibility and functionality on animal models, and Össur, a world leader company in the development of prostheses, will contribute to the development of the new SOMA prosthesis. The team of partners is coordinated by UCBM, who will also develop the instrumented hand prosthesis, the algorithms for encoding somatic sensations and the techniques for stimulating the PNS through ultrasound probes. The UAB team, led by Prof. Xavier Navarro, will lead the validation of the new interface system in vivo. The virtual kick-off meeting defined the first actions to achieve the ambitious objectives of the project: the prostheses will be able to feel and route back to the amputee tactile and thermal sensations, and also pain. To this purpose, SOMA will take advantage of the most advanced technology in the field of tissue engineering and neurocomputational modeling, integrated in a synergistic way with the most advanced technologies, hardware and software, in the field of neuroprostheses and implantable devices