10 Aprile 2020



At BEA, we care about being well aware of new discoveries and remarkable stories in our exciting field of study. Therefore, we have decided to share articles or scientific papers that we find inspiring. Hoping that you will be inspired as well, click on the image to access the full article or video!

When a new pathogen emerges, our bodies and healthcare systems are left vulnerable. And when this pathogen causes the outbreak of a pandemic, there’s an urgent need for a vaccine to create widespread immunity with minimal loss of life. So how quickly can we develop vaccines when we need them most? Dan Kwartler describes the three phases of vaccine development.

We are all facing a challenging situation. We miss our friends and the places that we shared on a daily basis. We miss our university, being late for the 8.15am class or the beer after a full day of work with our classmates. We – as a student association – feel this change even more, because one of our core values is to connect people. 


So what will be the future of university? Will 2020-2021 academic year be virtual or in-person? 


Rumors say that Harvard will go virtually next academic year, even if any statement has been given yet. It would be a huge loss of the money (just think that university taxes can reach 80.000 US$ per year) for the university because of all the students who will decide to not enroll next academic year, since what makes Harvard one of the best universities in the world are not only its classes but also all the activities that make it a once in a lifetime experience. 


On this side of the ocean, our Rector Ferruccio Resta is absolutely sure that students’ presence in university is of fundamental importance. At the same time, he said he will allow people far from Milan to follow all the classes online.


This article from Nature makes a brief overview of what is happening around the globe and what will probably happen in the next future. 

It is true that carbon fiber running- specific prostheses (RSP) have allowed individuals with lower extremity amputation (ILEA) to actively participate in sporting activities but because of the high stiffness and low damping characteristic of chosen materials there is abnormal loading during running that can cause potential physical injuries and degenerative joint diseases.

The article talks about an experiment which was conducted on eight ILEA with unilateral transtibial amputations and eight control subjects at three speeds, in order to analyze the vertical ground reaction force (vGRF), in particular the vertical impact peak (VIP) and the vertical average loading rate (VALR). It is demonstrated that loading variables increase with an increase in running speed not only in able- bodied control runners but also in ILEA using RSPs. In addition, loading variables in the ILEA intact limb were greater than the prosthetic limb and the limbs of able- bodied control subjects for a range of running speeds. In this type of experiment, it is important to consider some aspects: the variation in the running experience and the type of the RSP.

A new era in cardiovascular medicine is marked by the adoption of Computational Fluid Dynamics modeling, the rapidly evolving science of solving numerically the equations of fluid motion in order to produce quantitative predictions and analyses of fluid flow phenomena.
Which could be the potential clinical impact of this science?
This article shows the benefits and the future challenges of it in diagnostic assessment, device design and clinical trials. With the aim of minimising invasive instrumentation, it has the potential to reduce time and risk associated with clinical trials.
Models incorporating specific data of the individual enable to individualize risk prediction and virtual treatment planning. In this context, the integration of multiple physiological models can lead to full system models, the ‘Virtual Physiological Human, to simulate the impact of various conditions, pathologies and treatments across multiple organ systems.

Over 250.000 patients die due to “medical errors” every year in the US. It’s the 3rd cause of death, after heart disease and cancer. How can we decrease this number?

This paper shows us a possible solution: 3D printed organ models are innovative surgical tools that can be used for pre-operative planning and surgical training. Indeed, many difficult surgical procedures need adequate study before entering the operating room, otherwise human error is just around the corner.

The paper reviews both pros and cons of most innovative 3D printed organs and makes also a discussion on which are the challenges they still have to take to be ready to use.

Before starting with the new topic, biomechanics, that you have chosen, we want to propose you an article written also by a professor of Politecnico di Milano about modeling the covid 19 epidemic. This model predicts the course of the epidemic to help plan an effective control strategy. The simulation results, obtained through the model, were compared with real data, resulting that restrictive social distancing, widespread testing and contact tracing will be needed in order to end the pandemic.

From many videos and photos published on social media, people have not really realized the situation: the epidemic is not concluded, the virus is still among us. This is why we must follow the restrictions given by the government in order to avoid the curve rising, and therefore to come back to phase one.

Robotic surgery, or robot-assisted surgery, allows doctors to perform many types of complex procedures with more precision, flexibility and control in comparison to conventional techniques.

What are the ancestors of modern surgical technologies?

This paper allows us to jump into the past discovering one of the first technologies used in this field: the Da Vinci surgical system. This one was approved in 2000 by the FDA and nowadays there are more than 1700 Da Vinci System installed in hospitals worldwide.

The paper analyses the impact of this system on general surgery showing us the starting point of robot-assisted surgery. 

The article discusses about a multicurved robotic finger, constituted by light emitting diodes (LED), photodiodes and few wire cables connecting the finger to the hand.

The LEDs are used in order to emit light, which is detected by the photodiodes after has been deformed due to the touch of finger.

Because of the huge number of detected signals and partial overlapping between themselves, human interpretation becomes difficult. Thus, machine learning algorithms are used in order to extract relevant information about contact location and applied normal force.

This finger can cover a complex 3D shape resulting in a tactile robot finger with no blind spots.

Introducing humanoid robots in the therapy of patients affected by autism spectrum disorder, patient’s social capabilities and motor skills could improve. It is demonstrated that, during the therapy, robot applications can facilitate patient’s participation and engagement. The purpose of the work was to design two embodied mirroring setups, using two motion capture systems, and to develop a prototype of an interactive mirroring game using the NAO robot. Wearable sensors and marker- less vision based devices were used, in particular Inertial Measurement Units and the Microsoft Kinect respectively, in order to measure movements of the upper limbs of two healthy subjects. Furthermore, the two setups were compared and the Kinect- based setup was chosen as the best candidate for clinical applications. 


The project was conducted also by students in a collaboration between Politecnico di Milano and Instituto Superior Tecnico de Lisboa and developed in NEARLab of Politecnico di Milano. 

Which could be the role of robotics in clinical care of infectious diseases? The authors of the article have identified medical areas of specific importance, in which robotics has a crucial impact in reducing the risk of infection. 

The main tasks of the robots are the sterilization of all high-touch surfaces through UV light devices, temperature measurement in public areas and in particular in hospital areas, through temperature sensors and vision algorithms. In addition, robots can participate in the automation of diagnostic testing, in order to avoid workforce mobilization. 

COVID-19 could represent the starting point for restoring the modus operandi of workers and may drive further research in robotics to address risks of infectious diseases.