On the 1st of September 2021, the ROSE (Restoring Odorant Detection and Recognition in Smell Deficits) project kicked off. The project has been awarded 3M€ by the Horizon 2020 European Innovation Council Pathfinder Pilot programme (formerly FET Open).
The EIC Pathfinder Pilot programme funds and supports early-stage, science and technology research by consortia exploring novel ideas for radically new future technologies that challenge current paradigms and venture into the unknown, with the aim to generate genuine societal or economic innovations.
Seven international partners, coordinated by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and, more precisely, by the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center (CRNL, CNRS / Inserm / Claude Bernard Lyon 1 University), join forces to advance technology in assisting people with anosmia.
Partial and total loss of smell (respectively hyposmia and anosmia) impacts 20% of the global population with adverse effects on quality of life. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that nearly one in two Covid-positive people worldwide suffers from olfactory loss, which persists in some cases.
Unlike other sensory systems, there is currently no advanced technology that can partially or totally restore the sense of smell. The ultimate goal of the ROSE project is to develop a proof of concept combining miniaturized odour sensors and stimulation arrays that will be evaluated in patients with smell disorders. This research is interdisciplinary and combines nanotechnology, microtechnology, biotechnology, mechanical design, neurosurgery, clinical olfaction, neuroscience and cognitive psychology.
The role of Politecnico di Milano - Department of Mechanical Engineering is to develop the methodology for the acquisition and modelling of the nasal cavity of subjects to use in the design of the bespoke miniaturized artificial noses, and to design, simulate, manufacture and test prototypes of bespoke miniaturized artificial noses.
The other international partners of the project are École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Suisse), University of Thessaloniki (Greece), University of Dresden (Germany), Aryballe (France,) and French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA, France).
In addition to its core objective, the ROSE project will open up new scientific and technological possibilities for the miniaturization of affinity sensors for other applications. These include smarter household appliances, R&D and quality control for food, flavours and fragrances, and new neural stimulating approaches for neuroscience research.