The body's peripheral nervous system constantly monitors the status of internal organs and helps regulate biological responses to infection, injury or other imbalances. When this regulatory process goes awry due to injury or illness, peripheral nerve signals can actually exacerbate a condition, causing pain, inflammation or immune dysfunction.
That reality raises the tantalizing prospect that a number of difficult-to-treat conditions might be managed more effectively by precise modulation of the peripheral nervous system than by conventional medical devices or medications. And it explains why
Initiated in support of the President's brain initiative, ElectRx (pronounced "electrics") aims to develop new, high-precision, minimally invasive technologies for modulating nerve circuits to restore and maintain human health. ElectRx technologies are also expected to help accelerate scientific research aimed at achieving a more complete understanding of the structure and function of specific neural circuits and their role in health and disease. Potential targets include recently identified circuits involved in regulating immune system function, providing new hope for treating a range of inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic inflammatory response syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. ElectRx is also expected to improve peripheral nerve stimulation treatments for brain and mental health disorders, such as epilepsy, traumatic brain injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression.
Simple implantable devices for management of chronic inflammatory diseases and other disorders are already in clinical use, and the market for neuromodulation devices is growing rapidly. Current devices, however, are relatively large (about the size of a deck of cards), require invasive surgical implantation and often produce side effects due to their lack of precision. ElectRx seeks to create ultraminiaturized devices, approximately the same size as individual nerve fibers, which would require only minimally invasive insertion procedures such as injectable delivery through a needle.
ElectRx is part of a broader portfolio of programs within
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OCTOBER 31, 2014
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