The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a program that aims to help the human body heal itself, U.S president Barack Obama has revealed.
Doug Weber, DARPA program manager, said that the technology DARPA plans to develop through the Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program could fundamentally change the manner in which doctors diagnose, monitor and treat injury and illness.
Weber added that instead of relying only on medication, they envision a closed-loop system that would work in concept like a tiny, intelligent pacemaker, which would continually assess conditions and provide stimulus patterns tailored to help maintain healthy organ function, helping patients get healthy and stay healthy using their body's own systems.
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.