By Cort Johnson in Health Rising.
This is the first of three blogs looking at major NIH projects which, while not being aimed at fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), could profoundly affect how they are understood and treated.
The NIH’s Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC) is exploring an entirely new way of treating disease. It proposes to tweak the electrical circuits (nerves) in our bodies to return people to health.
These nerves (every nerve outside the brain and spinal cord) control the health and functioning of every organ in the body. SPARC is slated to spend $250 million over the next seven years in an attempt to learn how to manipulate these nerves to reduce pain, relieve inflammation, heal heart problems, fix gut disorders and more.
Nobody knows if the self-proclaimed “high-risk” project will be successful, but if it is it could usher in a new, side-effect free way of treating illnesses that could put drugs to shame.
The peripheral nervous system is stunningly complex but the general idea is not. It simply consists of using some sort of generator to send electrical impulses down a nerve, causing it to fire. The crude technology used today employs a kind of scattershot approach which ends up activating bunches of nerves.
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