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ElectRx Has the Nerve to Envision Revolutionary Therapies for Self-Healing 2014.12.20

DARPA, USA - December 11, 2014 - DARPA's Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx, pronounced "electrics") program aims to develop groundbreaking technologies that would use the body's innate neurophysiology to restore and maintain health. ElectRx would leverage advanced sensing and stimulating technologies to target specific peripheral neural circuits that control organ functions. These feedback-controlled neuromodulation technologies would monitor health status and intervene as needed to deliver patient-specific therapeutic patterns of stimulation designed to restore a healthy physiological state. The program seeks to create ultraminiaturized devices that would require only minimally invasive insertion procedures such as injectable delivery through a needle. DARPA is seeking innovative research proposals to help transform neuromodulation therapies from last resort to first choice for a wide range of diseases.

DARPA’s ElectRx program plans to develop technologies to restore and maintain healthy physiological status through monitoring and targeted regulation of signaling in peripheral nerves that control organ functions.
Novel therapies based on targeted stimulation of the peripheral nervous system could promote self-healing, reduce dependence on traditional drugs and provide new treatment options for illnesses.
Courtesy of DARPA
 

DARPA, USA - December 11, 2014

• Proposals sought for groundbreaking neuromodulation capabilities that would maximize the immunological, physical and mental health of military Service members and veterans

Many chronic inflammatory diseases and mental health conditions affecting military Service members and veterans involve abnormal activity in the peripheral nervous system, which plays a key role in organ function.

Monitoring and targeted regulation of peripheral nerve signals offer great promise to help patients restore and maintain their health without surgery or drugs.

Current neuromodulation devices are typically used as a last resort, however, because they are relatively large (about the size of a deck of cards), require invasive surgical implantation and often produce side effects due to their lack of precision.

DARPA’s Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx, pronounced “electrics”) program aims to develop groundbreaking technologies that would use the body’s innate neurophysiology to restore and maintain health.
ElectRx would leverage advanced sensing and stimulating technologies to target specific peripheral neural circuits that control organ functions.
Courtesy of DARPA
 
DARPA’s Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program is seeking innovative research proposals to help transform neuromodulation therapies from last resort to first choice for a wide range of diseases.

ElectRx (pronounced “electrics”) aims to develop groundbreaking technologies that would use the body’s innate neurophysiology to restore and maintain health.

In support of the White House’s brain initiative, ElectRx also seeks to accelerate understanding of specific neural circuits and their role in health and disease.

http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2014/08/26.aspx  

Future therapies based on targeted peripheral neural stimulation could promote self-healing, reduce dependence on traditional drugs and provide new treatment options for illnesses.

ElectRx would leverage advanced sensing and stimulating technologies to target specific peripheral neural circuits that control organ functions.

These feedback-controlled neuromodulation technologies would monitor health status and intervene as needed to deliver patient-specific therapeutic patterns of stimulation designed to restore a healthy physiological state.

The program seeks to create ultraminiaturized devices that would require only minimally invasive insertion procedures such as injectable delivery through a needle.


Modular Prosthetic Limb courtesy of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
 
“Many chronic illnesses occur when the body’s natural neuroelectrical and biochemical rhythms are disrupted, like playing wrong notes in music,”
said Doug Weber, DARPA program manager.
“ElectRx seeks to understand what the ‘right notes’ are for each person and provide real-time treatment to help the patient achieve and enjoy a harmonious, healthy baseline. Peripheral neuromodulation therapies based on ElectRx research could help maximize the immunological, physical and mental health of military Service members and veterans.”

Modular Prosthetic Limb courtesy of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
 
The scope of ElectRx’ research is peripheral neuromodulation treatments for inflammatory diseases (which include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic inflammatory response syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease) and mental health disorders
(such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression).

DARPA expects ElectRx proposers to identify a disease of interest to study and treat.

The agency intends to determine overall program success based on advancement of minimally or non-invasive interface technology, the capability to target specific nerves without side effects, validation of biological input/output pathways, and potential for translating this knowledge into an integrated, closed-loop neural-visceral interface for monitoring and maintaining health.

To familiarize potential participants with the technical objectives of ElectRx, DARPA has scheduled a Proposers' Day on Tuesday, December 16, 2014, at the Capitol Conference Center in Arlington, Va. Registration is closed.

Modular Prosthetic Limb courtesy of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
 
The DARPA Special Notice document announcing the Proposers’ Day and describing the specific capabilities sought is available at
http://go.usa.gov/6zpW 

The Broad Agency Announcement with full technical details on ElectRx is available at http://go.usa.gov/F88T 

For more information, please email DARPA-BAA-15-06@darpa.mil 


ElectRx plans to explore two principal technical areas:

Technical Area 1 (TA1):
Systems approaches to neurobiological discovery and closed-loop control of physiological status in vivo.
Proposals should aim to elucidate the neurobiological foundations of the proposed disease target and use the new insights derived from the physiological studies to drive closed-loop neuromodulation system design and implementation.
These efforts should culminate with in vivo demonstrations of predictable and automatic restoration of healthy physiological states in response to on-board physiological state monitoring.

Technical Area 2 (TA2):
Advanced component technology development.
Proposals to TA2 should develop and demonstrate in vivo advanced minimally and non-invasive (atraumatic) component technologies, including novel sensing modalities and neural interface technologies.
Depending on research results, DARPA may integrate effective technologies developed in both technical areas in a future add-on research phase.


Bio - Dr. Douglas Weber


Douglas Weber, Ph.D.
Program Manager
DARPA Microsystems Technology Office

Courtesy of DARPA
 
Dr. Doug Weber joined DARPA as a Program Manager in 2013.

His research interests are in the field of neural engineering, specifically: neural interface systems and how to apply these technologies to acquiring and decoding neural signals for controlling assistive and prosthetic devices; and neural stimulation technologies for restoring or retraining sensory, motor and autonomic functions.

Dr. Weber came to DARPA from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering and the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He also served the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as a Research Biomedical Engineer in the VA Pittsburgh Health System.

Dr. Weber is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and a senior member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

He has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and has mentored several undergraduate and graduate students in bioengineering, medical students and postdoctoral fellows.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Bioengineering from Arizona State University.

He completed post-doctoral training in the Centre for Neuroscience at the University of Alberta.

Contact:

Dr. Douglas Weber
Program Manager
Biological Technologies Office
douglas.weber@darpa.mil  

http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/BTO/Personnel/DrDouglasWeber.aspx  

Associated images posted on www.darpa.mil  and video posted at www.youtube.com/darpatv  may be reused according to the terms of the DARPA User Agreement, available here: http://go.usa.gov/nYr 
Tweet @darpa

Please direct all media queries to Outreach@darpa.mil  


Source: DARPA

http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases.aspx  

http://www.darpa.mil/default.aspx  


Editor-in-Chief of ASTROMAN magazine: Roman Wojtala, PhD.


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