Wednesday, January 23
SetPoint Medical released a new paper that goes into the detail of the evolution of bioelectronic medicine. There has been a long history of treating different ailments using electricity, but it wasn’t until Dr. Tracey’s discovery of the Vagus nerve as an ‘inflammatory reflex’ that they could then develop the clinical evidence that the nervous system and the immune system influence one another.
Using biomarkers (in this case, inflammatory markers such as TNF- alpha, CRP, white blood cell count, and cytokines like IL-1 and so on), researchers at SetPoint, led by Dr. Yaakov Levine, found that when the Vagus nerve is electrically stimulated, T-cells reprogram and alter the behavior of macrophages that produce those inflammatory biomarkers, resulting in a decrease in disease activity.
SetPoint’s first clinical trial was led by Dr. Paul-Peter Tak, an internationally renowned rheumatologist that was working on research exploring the role of the Inflammatory Reflex and Rheumatoid Arthritis. In 2016, the positive results of the study were published: 12 of 17 the R.A. patients in the study saw a meaningful drop in their Disease Activity Score, swollen and tender joints were reduced, and their quality of life (according to their HAQ-DI score) significantly improved.
Nowadays, SetPoint is running a clinical trial for Rheumatoid Arthritis in the US, using their revolutionary device, a ‘Microregulator’, to pinpoint Vagus nerve fibers more effectively.
This paper is a fascinating glimpse into the story of this revolutionary field of medicine utilizing electricity to treat disease — from the methods of the ancient Egyptians to the Greeks, to the emergence of wireless charging pioneered by Nikola Tesla, to the technological rates of increase noted by Gordon Moore (Moore’s Law), to the research done by the University of Colorado and Virginia, to the discovery of the inflammatory reflex by Dr. Tracey, to the work relating inflammation to high resting heart rate and low vagal tone by Dr. Paul-Peter Tak, to the clinical research conducted by SetPoint that is changing lives (including mine) — it’s been quite a journey for these pioneers. When considering Moore’s Law of the doubling of progress every two years, one can only imagine where this decade will take us — and how it will transform healthcare as we know it.
Thursday, August 23
In this video, Paul Peter Tak, and man who could likely end the conflict in the Middle East with his giggle, explains Vagus Nerve Stimulation and the findings of the Rheumatoid Arthritis trials. Further, Dr. Tak is a world-renowned rheumatologist and immunologist that discovered that having a low-vagal tone results in a High Resting Heart Rate.
He explains how autonomic dysfunction, such as having a high resting heart rate, can be a predictive factor in people developing RA (as well as other inflammatory diseases) and that stimulating the Vagus nerve restores balance to the previously imbalanced autonomic nervous system. Makes sense — my resting heart rate was never below 95 until we began zappin’ my Vagus nerve — and I know I’ve spoken to many others in the Crohn’s/RA community that also regularly experience a high heart rate.
So, essentially, those of us with inflammatory diseases need to have our Vagus nerve zapped because it’s snoozin’ on the job — and when it’s snoozin’, it allows inflammation to run rampant, resulting in diseases such as RA, Crohn’s, or others.
Thursday, August 16
This piece by Inside Philanthropy highlights the inception of the Feinstein Institute and the wonderful humans, Leonard and Susan Feinstein (Mr. Feinstein is the co-founder of Bed, Bath, and Beyond), that have done so much for this field through their philanthropy and dedication to research. Further, it talks about the partnerships that have happened in this field; collaborations like these (between GSK, GE Ventures, and more) make the magic happen — and I’m living proof of that. 🙂
Thursday, August 9
This article explains how Dr. Theo Zanos decoded the signals sent by TNF and IL-1 (both inflammatory cytokines) in the Vagus Nerve. The Vagus Nerve is made up of around 100,000 fibers, 80% of which are sensory and work to send information back and forth between the body and the brain. In my basic understanding of it, what Dr. Zanos did is to record the activity of the Vagus Nerve and read that activity kind of how you’d look at radio frequencies, in order to understand the language of the Vagus Nerve: for instance, what fiber delivers which information and what direction is that information traveling, and what happens when we hone in on that specific fiber to electrically stimulate it?
Most importantly, what does this revelation do? Well, if these guys understand the language of the Vagus Nerve, they can develop Vagus Nerve implants that customize stimulation based on that specific individual’s needs — (part of the movement toward precision-medicine!).
(Huh… hey, 9th-grade science teacher, want some toast? Click Here )
Thursday, August 2
Throwback to the Rheumatoid Arthritis trial for Vagus Nerve Stimulation:
“After 42 days of treatment—turning on the device for 60 seconds, from one to four times daily—the patients had significantly reduced levels of TNF in their blood compared to baseline levels. When the stimulator was turned off for two weeks, those levels of TNF began to creep back up; when it was turned back on, they once again plummeted. In addition to TNF, the stimulation also decreased the production of other inflammatory proteins in the body, including interleukin-6 and interleukin-1.”
Thursday, July 26
Dr. Kevin Tracey explains his quest for using his background as a neurosurgeon to research inflammation via mapping the nervous system, and how vagus nerve stimulation can treat disease using electricity.