MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Researchers in Germany have developed a neurostimulation implant shown to reduce blood pressure in rats by as much as 40% without any major side effects.
First results from their work, published today in the Journal of Neural Engineering, uses 24 electrodes in a micro-machined cuff that’s then wrapped around the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain to major organs in the thorax and abdomen.
The device works by modulating signals from baroreceptors in the aortic arch, which are activated when blood vessels stretch, to control short-term fluctuations in blood pressure.
"Our proof-of-concept interface has shown that it is possible to use the left vagal nerve to reduce blood pressure without any adverse side effects, which is important for a wide variety of potential treatments that could utilise nerve stimulation without actually penetrating the nerve," lead author Dr. Dennis Plachta said. "As the device will require surgery, it is not intended to be the 1st port of call for treatment and will come into play when patients, for whatever reasons, are resistant to medication. Nevertheless, the long-term goal is to provide ‘treatment-on-demand’ for the patient, whereby the implantable device uses an intelligent circuit to record the activity of the patient, for instance when they are doing exercise, and adjust the blood pressure accordingly."
The researchers’ next step is to develop the implant for testing on larger animals such as pigs and sheep, Plachta said.
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