- The Washington Times - Friday, September 19, 2014

The human body has amazing self-healing capabilities — and the Pentagon believes it can manipulate those capabilities to its advantage.

Researchers say they’re on the verge of tap into the body’s peripheral nervous system by using technology created through its five-year Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program, which the Pentagon touts will “fundamentally change the manner in which doctors diagnose, monitor and treat injury and illness.”

“Instead of relying only on medication — we envision a closed-loop system that would work in concept like a tiny, intelligent pacemaker. It 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,” Doug Weber, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program manager, said on DARPA’s website.

Researchers aim to create advanced biosensors and optical, acoustic and electromagnetic devices that could help treat epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and a host of other conditions.

The technology would be the size of individual nerve fibers. Nascent versions created for similar purposes currently treat some ailments, but the Pentagon says the devices are too large and often produce adverse side effects.

DARPA plans to release more on ElectRx in the coming months through the Federal Business Opportunities website. Companies assigned to the project will eventually get an FDA exemption for pilot studies of ElectRx devices in humans.

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