Neurotechnology is becoming an area of new technological competition among the most developed countries

Recently, the Government of the Russian Federation approved the Concept of Technological Development until 2030, developed on behalf of Russian President V.V. Putin. The implementation of the Concept should solve the issues of production of high-tech products in the country. It formulates the main directions necessary to achieve technological sovereignty and the transition to innovation-oriented economic growth. For the first time , neurotechnologies are listed among the priorities .

In the last decade, there has been a rapid development of research and development in the field of cognitive sciences and neurotechnologies around the world, and this is not only artificial intelligence, but above all technologies aimed at improving the quality of life of people with various movement disorders and neurological disorders. Neurotechnologies also find applications in education, the entertainment industry, and solving everyday problems.

About how this area is developing in Russia and in the world and what our developers need for the breakthrough development of neurotechnologies in order not to find themselves in a situation of significant technological lag, read in an interview with RIA Novosti with experts — the leader of the Neuronet NTI working group Andrey Ivashchenko and the head of the Neuromedtechnique segment RG Neuronet NTI by Vladimir Konyshev.

In Russia, within the framework of the National Technology Initiative (NTI), the Neuronet direction is being developed with the task of creating “means of human-machine communications based on advanced developments in neurotechnologies and increasing the productivity of human-machine systems, the productivity of mental and thought processes.” They founded the industry union of the same name — a non-profit partnership that unites thousands of specialists and experts, hundreds of small businesses. We launched dozens of projects.

“In 2015, we formulated a roadmap, our vision of what technologies over the next ten to twenty years will leave laboratories and turn into real products and services,” says the leader of the working group for the development and implementation of the Neuronet roadmap, head of the department innovative pharmaceuticals and biotechnology MIPT, head of the pharmaceutical company ChemRar Andrey Ivashchenko. — One of the six segments of this plan is devoted to neuromedical technology . They collected everything that is in one way or another connected with neurotechnology in medicine: equipment, exoskeletons, prostheses, neural interfaces — invasive and non-invasive ways of connecting humans to machines.”

Sensor- Tech has already prepared an implant for restoring Elvis vision . A microchip on the skull stimulates the visual cortex of the brain with weak currents. An external headset made of a hoop with a camera mounted on the head and a microcomputer unit processes the image using intelligent algorithms. The project has private investors. Human trials will start next year.

The Motorika company, together with the Medical Center of the Far Eastern Federal University and the Skoltech Center for Neurobiology and Neurorehabilitation named after V. Zelman , is testing the neuromodulation platform NEMO Sensitive , designed for the relief of phantom pain and the sensation of prosthetic limbs. The development belongs to the group of invasive BCIs. In November 2021, in Vladivostok, two men who lost their hands were implanted with electrodes connecting the remaining nerve endings to mechanical fingers. After the operation, patients were able to feel the compression force of the prosthesis, feel the object and even its temperature.

As part of the consortium of the NTI Center for Bionic Engineering in Medicine, Motoriki specialists and scientists from Samara State Medical University are creating neural interfaces for controlling prostheses of the upper and lower extremities. Animal studies are ongoing.

These and other Russian invasive BCI projects require clinical trials, licensing and approval from Roszdravnadzor. But the main thing is the source of financing.

“Clinical trials are several orders of magnitude more expensive than preclinical studies,” notes Ivashchenko. — Without government support, everything will remain at the level of experimental developments. Our geopolitical competitors have moved on to clinical trials. This means that we urgently need to implement the existing groundwork and take them to the next level.”

“So far, not a single project in the world has become commercial,” continues Vladimir Konyshev, head of the MIPT neurorobotics laboratory and general director of the Neurobotics group of companies , who is responsible for the neuromedical technology segment at Neuronet. — Both Neuralink and Sensor-Tech are moving on to human trials. We are keeping up with the timing of pilot studies. We are lagging behind technically; there is no regulatory framework. And the financing of our companies is not at all the same as that of Elon Musk.

For now, everything rests on individual enthusiastic developers supported by enthusiastic investors, and this needs to change. Otherwise, for our guys who suffered in the Northern Military District, we will have to buy equipment from the Americans.”

Today, all chips for neural devices are produced in the USA. The vast majority of developments and scientific publications on this topic are also American.

“The reason is the weakness of our education in the field of neuroscience ,” explains Konyshev. — We traditionally have strong fundamental science, and the whole world is actively moving towards modern technologies. Until we have professionals in this field, we will lag behind. Nowadays it is very difficult to find employees for neurotechnology projects. Fortunately, the situation is gradually changing. This year, a master’s program in neuroprosthetics is being opened at the Russian National Research Medical University named after N. I. Pirogov .”


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