New Jersey Patent of the Month – January 2023
ElectroCore, Inc. is at the forefront of non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation (nVNS) therapy, developing treatment solutions using the delivery of energy impulses for a range of conditions. As a leader in the development and testing of this therapy option, the company has recently patented a method of treating autism spectrum disorders (ASD), amongst others, with nVNS.
VNS treatments were originally developed for the treatment of partial onset epilepsy before being expanded to treat depression and other disorders. Most other attempts at this treatment require electrodes to be surgically implanted within the patient. ElectroCore’s methodology is non-invasive, delivering a proprietary signal through the skin to the right or left branch of the vagus nerve in the neck. Stimulation of the vagus nerve has effects on many autonomic functions in the brain and body, including neurotransmitter levels, inflammation levels, and metabolism.
The nVNS treatment protocol can be applied to patients at various stages of life, from newborns to adults. The stimulation creates a euphoric mental state in the patient, making it easier for subsequent treatments to be applied. This euphoric stimulation can then be used as a conditioning stimulus for the treatment of autism.
In addition to treating autism, electroCore’s invention can also be used as a prophylaxis for neurodevelopmental disorders during pregnancy. The stimulation modulates the mother’s circulating levels of serotonin, making it especially useful for women who are taking serotonin reuptake inhibitors or using cocaine. The stimulation can also be used to increase the activity of raphe nuclei to produce more serotonin in the newborn’s brain, helping to prevent abnormal neurodevelopment.
ElectroCore’s invention also promotes a balance of neuronal excitation and inhibition, which is crucial for normal neurodevelopment. The stimulation can be used to increase the number of inhibitory GABAergic synapses in the developing brain of a newborn or young child at risk of developing autism. Additionally, the stimulation can be used to promote the release of inhibitory neurotransmitters such as GABA, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain, helping to promote a healthy balance of excitation and inhibition.
The devices and methods developed by electroCore have the potential to significantly improve the lives of individuals with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders as well as those who suffer from pain and chronic conditions. The non-invasive nature of the stimulation makes it a safe and effective treatment option for a wide range of patients. ElectroCore’s commitment to developing cutting-edge technology for the medical field is truly impressive and holds great promise for the future.
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