Non-invasive Neuromodulation

Gavin Britz, MD & Eugene Golanov, MD, PhD

Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) is an alternative non-invasive method for the electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve with the potential to offer a protective effect in treating severe stroke. Britz and his team have found that tVNS decreases stroke infarct volume in preclinical studies, and that targeted electrical stimulation can help activate the brain’s defensive response against stroke. In addition, their work on non-invasive neuromodulation has resulted in the development of a novel treatment, a neural stimulation device, or nSIM, to help contain stroke-related damage in humans. To avoid interfering with standard-of-care stroke procedures, their nSIM device is incorporated within an endotracheal tube (Patent US11376421B2).

Methods and Devices to Assist and Improve Cerebrospinal Fluid Drainage
Gavin Britz, MD, MPA, MPH
& Angelique Regnier-Golanov, PhD

CSF supports normal brain function in several ways, including mechanical support, homeostatic maintenance and humoral factors distribution. CSF is integral to the clearance of the brain metabolic waste and various pathogenic elements. Thus, maintenance of normal CSF drainage is of utmost importance for the normal brain and abnormalities of CSF drainage are being linked to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and hydrocephalus. We are conducting an innovative set of experiments to show the capability of percutaneous electrical stimulation of the neck muscles to improve and accelerate the CSF drainage. The overarching goal of this work is to develop a wearable and non-invasive device. Results of studies conducted by Regnier-Golanov under guidance of Britz showed that electrical stimulation of the neck muscles in mice induced a significant decrease of intracranial pressure in vivo. These studies led to the filing of Patent Application PCT/US2018/059993

Using Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation to Improve Motor Recovery After Stroke
Timea Hodics, MD

Center researchers, led by Hodics, are focused on advancing recovery after injury through various approaches. Her group are among the first to employ transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in the understudied but crucial early phase after a stroke to determine if there are advantages to intervening with tDCS when the rate of neuroplasticity and thus recovery, is typically fastest. Previous tDCS research with stroke has focused on a later poststroke period occurring after the patient has plateaued and symptoms have become chronic. The researchers are conducting clinical studies investigating the impact of standard rehabilitation therapy plus tDCS on upper limb motor recovery in patients experiencing arm weakness who suffered an ischemic stroke in the previous five to 15 days. This area of research is part of a larger initiative to study the mechanisms underlying the functional and structural impairments of stroke and pave the way for more effective treatment strategies. Hodics’ research group is developing an AI-based home rehabilitation tool for stroke patients and studying the functional and structural impairments of stroke to pave the way for more effective treatment strategies and improved patient outcomes.