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viernes, 1 de diciembre 2023
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UdeA and ITM received a patent for the creation of a biomechatronic dog model

By Julián David Ospina Sánchez, journalist

On September 28th, the Superintendencia de Industria y Comercio (Superintendence of Industry and Commerce) granted a patent to researchers from UdeA and ITM for their creation of a biomechatronic canine model. This collaborative effort, which has the potential to completely transform the way veterinary medicine and related fields are taught, recreates a dog's body with its organs preserved and uses electrical and electronic instruments to mimic the animal's physiological processes.

The model's realism in both appearance and functionality will allow student's techniques to be perfected and to reach more accurate diagnoses. Photo: UdeA Communications Office / Alejandra Uribe F.

After ten years of work, a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the Instituto Tecnológico Metropolitano (ITM) and the Universidad de Antioquia developed a canine model that mimics the physiological functioning of the living animal. Sonia Cecilia Orozco Padilla, a researcher and professor at UdeA's Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, stated, "We had a question: why is there a lack of reliable simulators for student training in veterinary medicine?" She explained that the current models are very rigid structures or stuffed animals that have no real-world relevance.

"Biomechatronic model for veterinary training that includes mechanical, electrical, and electronic simulation modules and subcutaneous tunnels for their connection" is the result of such efforts, and it was granted an invention patent by the Superintendencia de Industria y Comercio (SIC) on September 28, 2023, through Resolution 59195.

The project started with the donation of a small dog's corpse that had just passed away and whose organs had been preserved via plastination. "We removed all the water from the cells, replaced it with acetone, and then with silicone, which allowed the specimen to keep its real shape," said Lynda Jhailu Tamayo Arango, researcher and professor at UdeA's Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, who highlighted plastination as the golden technique for this type of project.

Subsequently, the body was fitted with subcutaneous tunnels and electrical and electronic mechanisms that simulate the dog's physiological activity. "We proposed a mechatronic module with a mechanical part for percussion and blood pressure and an electronic part for electrocardiogram readings and capillary filling," noted Diana Alexandra Orrego Metaute, ITM researcher.

The end product is a realistic-looking dog model that can be used to practice cardiac, cerebral, and pulmonary resuscitation; pupillary reflex evaluation of neurological status; blood sampling; femoral pressure monitoring, and catheter conditioning; furthermore, the model's simulated functions can be expanded in the future.

"With this tool, we can program the clinical alterations that the animal may have and look at the alternative solutions and its reactions on a flexible and completely realistic biomechatronic model," said Professor Orozco Padilla.

The simulator allows the creation of different clinical scenarios that must be solved with real maneuvers by the students. Photo: UdeA Communications Office / Alejandra Uribe F.

Learning by doing

The achievement involving UdeA's research groups Biogenesis, Centauro, and the Center for Basic and Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine (Cibav), as well as ITM's Biomedical Research and Innovation Group GI2B, is based on the principle of learning by doing, which proposes that students become more prepared to deal with real-world cases.

According to Professor Tamayo Arango, "It is a revolutionary development that can change teaching methodology because it proposes clinical scenarios that directly involve students". 

This translates into professionals in veterinary medicine and related areas being more prepared and having greater maneuverability when facing real cases. "Accurate diagnoses and treatments will benefit animal health," said researcher Orozco Padilla.

"It is a model with high anatomical fidelity; just by touching it, you can feel the fur as if it were a live animal, which will bring professionals and students a step closer to the reality they will have to face in their daily lives," added Professor Orrego Metaute to support the notion that this model promotes experiential learning.

Having a patent 

The figure of the invention patent, granted by the Superintendencia de Industria y Comercio, allows the creators of the new simulator to retain control over its development and seek strategic partners for the model's industrial production.

"Being such a novel creation, so different from what currently exists in the market, it was possible to protect it for 20 years," said Felipe Londoño Velásquez, intellectual property lawyer at UdeA’s Knowledge Transfer, who explained that the biomechatronic model of the dog meets the conditions required by the SIC: novelty, high level of inventiveness, and industrial application.

As co-owners of the patent, UdeA and ITM will be able to receive royalties from the sale of their invention, resulting in additional income for the researchers and both educational institutions. "The good news is that, a few days after obtaining the patent, we have already started to receive proposals for the reproduction of the model so that it can be used in different educational spaces," said Orozco Padilla.

The creation and grant of the patent allow researchers to continue their search for alternatives in this regard. "We are currently working on two simulators, one for artificial insemination for cattle and the other for tracheal intubation for dogs," concluded Tamayo Arango.

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