Soldier, Heal Thyself

An old proverb, “Cura te ipsum” (Latin), means “Physician, heal thyself”. DARPA is beginning work on a project that will enhance the ability of the human body to heal itself. The project will focus first on mapping the neural pathways involved in disease and injury and then on investigating the potential of modulating nerve activity to promote the healing process. There is an expectation that this work will produce gains in understanding how the inflammatory process works to damage tissues and organs and how the damage can be alleviated. This could have a dramatic impact on treating spinal injuries, rheumatoid arthritis and other problems related to inflammation.

Work Begins to Support Self-Healing of Body and Mind – [darpa.mil]

Integrated, international efforts under ElectRx program blend mapping of neural circuits and development of novel bio-electrical interfaces

DARPA has selected seven teams of researchers to begin work on the Agency’s Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program, which has as its goal the development of a closed-loop system that treats diseases by modulating the activity of peripheral nerves. The teams will initially pursue a diverse array of research and technological breakthroughs in support of the program’s technical goals. Ultimately, the program envisions a complete system that can be tested in human clinical trials aimed at conditions such as chronic pain, inflammatory disease, post-traumatic stress and other illnesses that may not be responsive to traditional treatments.

“The peripheral nervous system is the body’s information superhighway, communicating a vast array of sensory and motor signals that monitor our health status and effect changes in brain and organ functions to keep us healthy,“ said Doug Weber, the ElectRx program manager and a biomedical engineer who previously worked as a researcher for the Department of Veterans Affairs. “We envision technology that can detect the onset of disease and react automatically to restore health by stimulating peripheral nerves to modulate functions in the brain, spinal cord and internal organs.”

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