Buzzing the Vagus Nerve Just Right to Fight Inflammatory Disease
Kilohertz frequency electrical block of afferent vagus nerve pathways allows targeted stimulation to reduce inflammation in vivo
Is treatment only making things better or maybe also making some things a little worse? That can be a nagging question in some medical decisions, where side effects are possible. But researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have figured out a way to keep what helps, while blocking what harms, in a therapy to fight serious chronic inflammatory diseases. It’s simple and works a little like a pacemaker: An implanted device electrically stimulates the vagus nerve, but, in addition, inhibits unwanted nerve activity in a targeted manner. Forms of vagus nerve stimulation treatment have already been successfully tested in humans by private industry with the intent to market them to patients. But the innovation by Georgia Tech researchers of adding an inhibiting signal could increase the clinical efficacy and therapeutic benefit of existing treatments.
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