The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, the University of Pennsylvania, MIT and GlaxoSmithKline are collaborating on research which aims to discover medicines that use electrical impulses to regulate the body’s organs and functions.
Nearly all organs and functions in the body are regulated through circuits of neurons that communicate through electrical impulses. There already exist devices that use electrical impulses to treat disease (i.e., pacemakers, defibrillators, deep-brain stimulation), but these devices do not target specific cells in the body. Researchers now believe it is possible to create devices that control action potentials in individual neurons, a critical step in developing technologies to use neural circuits to control specific cells. It may be possible to intervene in a broad spectrum of diseases, like inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, because these conditions can be controlled by neurons.