The results of a pilot study presented (abstract number: LB0009) on June 14, 2019, at the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR 2019) (https://www.congress.eular.org/) June 12-15 in Madrid, Spain, suggest that electro stimulation of one of the nerves connecting the brain to the body (the vagus nerve) could provide a novel treatment approach for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The abstract (http://scientific.sparx-ip.net/archiveeular/?c=a&searchfor=LB0009&view=1&item=2019LB0009) is titled “First-in-Human Study of Novel Implanted Vagus Nerve Stimulation Device to Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis,” "This is a really exciting development. For many patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, current treatments don't work, or aren't tolerated," said Professor Thomas Dörner, Chairperson of the Scientific Programme Committee, EULAR 2019. "These results open the door to a novel approach to treating not only rheumatoid arthritis, but other chronic inflammatory diseases. This is certainly an area for further study." The vagus nerve is the longest and the most complex of the 12 pairs of cranial nerves that originate from the brain. The name “vagus” comes from the latin word for “wandering.” This is because the vagus nerve “wanders” from the brain into the organs of the neck, chest and abdomen. Recent advances in neuroscience and immunology have mapped circuits in the brain that regulate immune responses. In one of the circuits, i.e., the “inflammatory reflex,” signals are transmitted in the vagus nerve that inhibit the production of cytokines including tumor necrosis factor (TNF), an inflammatory molecule that is a major therapeutic target in rheumatoid arthritis.
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