Fighting disease with electricity: Vagus nerve stimulation as a treatment of arthritis

Research Opportunity
Honours students
Number of Honour Places Available
1
Department / Centre
Medical Bionics Department
Location
Bionics Institute
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Sophie Payne spayne@bionicsinstitute.org

Summary Using electricity to alter the activity of peripheral nerves, dubbed ‘electroceutical therapy’, has the potential to treat a wide range of diseases that are poorly controlled by pharmaceutical drugs. Instead of circulating throughout the body and causing side effects as drugs do, electroceutical therapy sends therapeutic messages more precisely to the organs. As peripheral nerves affect many of the organs in our bodies, electroceutical intervention has been used to treat a number of diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, urinary and faecal incontinence, heart failure, obesity and gastroparesis.

Project Details

Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful, debilitating inflammatory disease that affects 24 million people worldwide, including 500,000 Australians. Despite advances in drug therapies, 40% of patients fail the first line of therapy and 20% fail the second line of therapy. These ‘drug-resistant’ patients remain affected by the disease and without hope of relief. Developing a treatment for these patients is an unmet clinical need.

Using electricity to alter the activity of peripheral nerves, dubbed ‘electroceutical therapy’, has the potential to treat a wide range of diseases that are poorly controlled by pharmaceutical drugs. Instead of circulating throughout the body and causing side effects as drugs do, electroceutical therapy sends therapeutic messages more precisely to the organs. As peripheral nerves affect many of the organs in our bodies, electroceutical intervention has been used to treat a number of diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, urinary and faecal incontinence, heart failure, obesity and gastroparesis. Previously at the Bionics Institute we have developed, tested, and validated a novel electroceutical device that stimulates the vagus nerve, to activate an internal anti-inflammatory pathway, for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. In this project, we will apply existing technology to investigate the efficacy of vagus nerve stimulation as a treatment of experimental arthritis in rats.

Suitable background of students

This project can be adapted to suit intern, UROP or Honours students who have experience in the following disciplines: neuroscience; bioengineering; physiology; biomedical science; immunology

Please cc enquiry to the student coordinator: student.enquiries@bionicsinstitute.org



Faculty Research Themes

Neuroscience

School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry, Musculoskeletal



Research Opportunities

Honours students
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department / Centre

Medical Bionics Department

Research Node

Bionics Institute

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