Healthy Living

Could a Pacemaker-like Implant Be the Next Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment?

The inflammatory reflect

Tracey and colleagues had previously discovered what they termed the "inflammatory reflex." In this phenomenon, whenever there is tissue damage and inflammation in the body, information is sent to the brain through the vagus nerve. The brain in turn sends messages back down the vagus nerves to the body's organs to dampen the inflammation response.

Matthijs Kox, an expert in immune responses from the Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, says that research from decades past has previously assumed that the brain had no control or influence over the immune system.

One of the keys to tackling an inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis is the tumor necrosis factor (TNF). The TNF is released from white blood cells that are called macrophages and are found in various parts of the body, such as in the spleen. 

Drugs that work by binding to TNF and effectively blocking or inhibiting its activity are highly popular treatments. However, these medications have been linked to cancer and are not effective for everyone who tries them.