Feinstein Institutes Unveil First Long-term Vagus Nerve Stimulation Implant in Mice

This new standard in bioelectronic medicine research demonstrates the potential impact of long-term vagus nerve stimulation to treat a wide range of diseases and conditions

Image of the first chronic vagus nerve mouse implant (Credit: The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health)

MANHASSET, N.Y.--()--For the first time, the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health today presented data showing the effective use of a long-term vagus nerve implant in mice. The data regarding vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), a potential game-changing therapy for multiple chronic conditions, was delivered at the North American Neuromodulation Society (NANS) 2020 Conference in Las Vegas.

Previous preclinical VNS studies have been limited to short-term stimulation -- a timeframe of minutes to hours -- due to the surgical and technological challenges of implanting a stimulator small enough to fit a mouse nerve. In order to conduct mouse studies lasting weeks or even months, Feinstein Institutes researchers, led by Stavros Zanos, PhD, MD, assistant professor in the Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine, developed new techniques to deliver long-term electrical stimulation in mice, an approach that may become the standard for bioelectronic medicine research conducted around the world.

“The ability to chronically stimulate the vagus nerve through a permanent implant has not been reported before in mice,” said Feinstein Institutes researcher Ibrahim Mughrabi, MD, PhD, who presented the data at NANS. “We are eager to continue to advance this new approach and look forward to the positive impact this implant will have on future bioelectronic research around the globe.”

In the study, a commercial bipolar cuff electrode was implanted around the left cervical vagus nerve of mice. The electrode functionality was evaluated over up to 90 days after implantation, and through electrocardiogram and breathing sensors researchers were able to measure real-time physiological responses to neurostimulation and adjust stimulation intensity accordingly.

By extending the research window of stimulation, from a single action to up to 90 days, a long-term vagus nerve implant provides new opportunities to investigate more thoroughly the therapeutic potential of chronic VNS in a range of relevant diseases modeled in mice.

For many years the Feinstein Institutes has enjoyed leading the field of bioelectronic medicine,” said Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes. “Now this milestone promises to accelerate advances in understanding basic mechanisms of bioelectronic medicine.”

The research was conducted in collaboration with Robert Froemke, PhD, associate professor at New York University, and Cristin Welle, PhD, assistant professor at University of Colorado.

About the Feinstein Institutes

The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research is the research arm of Northwell Health, the largest health care provider and private employer in New York State. Home to 50 research labs, 2,500 clinical research studies and 5,000 researchers and staff, the Feinstein Institutes raises the standard of medical innovation through its five institutes of behavioral science, bioelectronic medicine, cancer, health innovations and outcomes, and molecular medicine. We make breakthroughs in genetics, oncology, brain research, mental health, autoimmunity, and are the global scientific leader in bioelectronic medicine – a new field of science that has the potential to revolutionize medicine. For more information about how we produce knowledge to cure disease, visit feinstein.northwell.edu.

Contacts

Matthew Libassi
516-465-8325
mlibassi@northwell.edu

Release Summary

Feinstein Institutes researchers developed new techniques to deliver long-term electrical stimulation in mice.

Contacts

Matthew Libassi
516-465-8325
mlibassi@northwell.edu