The idea that the nerves conduct electrical impulses that create disease would be considered nonsense if it weren’t for the work of Kevin Tracey a neurosurgeon.
Dr Tracey’s experiments on the inflammatory reflex have proven that there is a close and causal connection between nerve connections and the immune system.
There are inflammatory diseases caused by a chemical known as Tumour Necrosis Factor or TNF. This chemical is linked to diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohns disease, asthma and sepsis or overwhelming infection.
Dr Tracey was able to show that if he used a electrical stimulator on the vagus nerve lying near the carotid artery in the neck that he could turn off the production of TNF.
The vagus nerve communicates through the nervous systems network with the brain and the immune system to create TNF and diseases caused by TNF.
Dr Tracey reasoned that if he programmed an electrical stimulator to talk to the immune system through the vagus nerve that he could turn off the production of TNF and treat specific diseases.
Dr Tracey started a company called SetPoint based in Valencia California. They designed a small neuromodulator (electrical stimulator) that is the size of a multi-vitamin. It contains a reprogrammable microprocessor, a rechargeable battery and an impulse generator. The generator is programmed to send bursts of energy 60 seconds in duration into the vagus nerve up to four times per day.
SetPoint started a clinical trial with patients with rheumatoid arthritis. One patient Mirela Mustcevic is a 38 year old woman who has had very severe rheumatoid arthritis since age 22. She had tried nine different medications with poor results. She could barely grasp a pencil. She could not dress without assistance.
Mirela had the 45 minute procedure done to implant the SetPoint device. It now fires up to 4 times per day into her vagus nerve to block the production of TNF. The results have been dramatic. She will often ride her bicycle on a 20 mile round trip to the Dutch coast from her home.
This is profound step forward for healthcare. We can see that drugs can be substituted for by a small neuromodulator that speaks the language of disease using the nerves. The neuromodulator turns off the disease process.
This can be a very effective and targeted treatment for severe diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.