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Implanting A Cure: Electronics to Help Fight Disease

The Boston Scientific Corporation is battling depression with new and innovative technology as shown in U.S. Patent No. 8914120, recently awarded to the medical device manufacturer for a “Method for Treating Depression by Indirectly Stimulating Raphe Nuclei.”

Depression is a condition that affects roughly 350 million people world-wide, spanning a variety of age groups, ethnicities and social backgrounds.  While most cases can be treated with psychotherapy methods and antidepressant medications, the number of people diagnosed continues to rise by roughly 20% each year.

In an effort to lower those numbers, researchers like those at Boston Scientific are looking for new methods to treat the condition using small electric implants to help control and regulate different neurotransmitters in the brain.  The technology addressed in this particular patent involves stimulating the “generation and metabolism of serotonin” in the brain, an abundant neurotransmitter in the body often associated with mood, appetite, sleep, memory and more.

Similarly DARPA, under the U.S. government’s BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies), has been working on using electronic implants to help treat a variety of diseases and conditions such as arthritis, depression, Crohn’s disease and more.  With the ElectRx program in place, DARPA’s focus is to replace medication with “closed-loop neural implants” capable of assessing the health status of a patient then providing targeted nerve stimulation to help regulate different biological settings.

With these types of groundbreaking technologies in place, the body can ultimately heal itself.  In a recent article released on DARPA’s website, program manager Doug Weber stated that the technology, “seeks to understand what the ‘right notes’ are for each person and provide real-time treatment to help the patient achieve and enjoy a harmonious, healthy baseline.”