Wednesday, October 07, 2015

DARPA's Almost Cyborgian ElectRX Program

DARPA is examining health on a nano scale through its electrical prescriptions (ElectRx) program.

The human body obviously has an amazing capacity to correct problems in its own system. There’s a huge range of conditions that we have the built-in ability to cure ourselves of, and DARPA plans to tap into this ability with ElectRx.

To understand the ElectRx program, first imagine the cardiac pacemaker – a device which delivers targeted electric shocks to the muscles of the heart to stimulate it to beat at a normal rate.

Now, imagine a device far tinier, that could be delivered through a needle. This device could be designed to constantly monitor certain conditions in the body, and then directly stimulate certain nerve pathways to trigger the body’s correct response mechanism when it’s not working as it should be. Let's say blood sugar regulation isn't working properly in a diabetic – this technology could potentially detect a blood sugar level anomaly and trigger the pancreas to release glucagon or insulin to sort it out.

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