Many chronic inflammatory diseases and mental health conditions involve abnormal activity in the peripheral nervous system which plays a key role in organ function. Monitoring and regulating peripheral nerve signals offer great promise to help patients restore and maintain their health without surgery or drugs.
One way this can be achieved is by using neuromodulation to employ advanced medical device technologies to enhance or suppress activity of the nervous system to treat disease. Current neuromodulation devices are typically used as a last resort. Also, because they are about the size of a deck of cards, they often require invasive surgical implantation and may produce side effects due to their lack of precision.
To counteract the problems with neuromodulation devices, ElectRx pronounced “electrics” is being researched to develop groundbreaking technologies that would use the body’s innate neurophysiology to restore and maintain health. Also, ElectRx could help researchers understand specific neural circuits and their role in health and disease.
According to Dr. Douglas Weber Program Manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), “Peripheral neuromodulation therapies based on ElectRx research could help maximize the immunological, physical, and mental health of military service members and veterans. The ElectRx program is trying to create ultraminiaturized devices that would require only minimally invasive insertion procedures such as injectable delivery through a needle.”
DARPA’s Biological Technology Office www.darpa.mil/our_work/bto issued a presolicitation (DARPA-BAA-1506 on December 11, 2014. The ElectRx program is looking for research proposals to help transform neuromodulation therapies from last resort to first choice for a wide range of diseases. The total funding will be approximately $50 million with multiple awards to be funded.