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Self Healing Implants Under Development in the US

Update Date: Sep 23, 2014 01:17 PM EDT

Ultra-miniature implants to promote self-healinng in the human body by modulating nerves, are currently under development in the US.

According to Discovery, a military-sponsored research programme is working on making electrical implants that can be inserted with needles. The implants can monitor the body and stimulate nerves to promote body healing, potentially paving way for an alternative to current practice of medical healing which remains the bastion of pharma giants. The implants, called Electrical Prescriptions or ElecRX, are being developed by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

"The technology DARPA plans to develop through the ElectRx program could fundamentally change the manner in which doctors diagnose, monitor and treat injury and illness," said Doug Webber, DARPA programme manager in a press release.

A biological process called Nueromodulation is the motiving concept behind ElectRx. The process involves monitoring of body's internal organs by peripheral nerves. Under disease or infections conditions, the process fails to function efficiently, worsening sickness and preventing healing.

Webber explained that the implant would work like a tiny, intelligent pacemaker. It would constantly assess conditions and provide stimulus patterns aimed to maintain healthy organ function. Financial Express reported that the implant's electrical impulses will be delivered to nerves on requirement, which would keep neuromodulation working. The objective is to promote healing.

Current crop of devices that regulate neuromodulation are large and require invasive surgery to put in place. They are also said to be lacking in precision. These device are currently used for management of chronic inflammatory disorders. ElectRx's small size would make it easy to insert and position at nerve endings, a location crucial for precise regulation of neuromodulation.

In addition to a host of inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, systemic inflammatory response syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, ElectRx could improve peripheral nerve stimulation treatments for epilepsy, traumatic brain injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression.  

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