Humans are pretty much capable of healing from any injury. The only creature that exceeds our resilience is the cockroach, which can live up to a week without a head, and let’s admit it, no one likes cockroaches, anyway. But what if humans could not only heal from basically anything, but also do so at a super-fast speed? Move over, Marvel, the Department of Defense is working on just that with its ElectRx programs that seems fit more for a comic book than military manual.

ElectRx, which according to the Official U.S. Defense Department Science Blog is pronounced “electrics,” is a program designed to help humans heal at accelerated speed by “targeted stimulation of the peripheral nervous system.” This promotes self-healing and reduces the need for drugs. Basically, the technology plans to hardwire the natural immune systems and make injuries that much easier and easier to mend. “Instead of relying only on medication, we envision a closed-loop system that would work in concept like a tiny, intelligent pacemaker … helping patients get healthy and stay healthy using their body’s own systems,” DARPA’s program manager, Doug Weber, explained on the science blog.

The nervous system, which consists of the brain, spinal cord, and neuron, can be divided into two parts: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. Our peripheral nervous system works by keeping tabs on the status of internal organs, and if need be, sending biological responses to infection, injury, and other imbalances. Thus, ElectRX works on the idea that controling the PNS would essentially control the healing process.

Effectively managing the PNS has been found to help treat many conditions more effectively than traditional medication or technology, the blog explains. The problem is that existing implantable devices for the management of disorders are large and require surgical implantation. This leads to a lower-than-desired failure rate. ElectRX is about the same size as an individual nerve fiber and can be implanted in someone with as simple as a needle injection.

The technology could potentially be used on a wide variety of ailments. "Potential targets include recently identified circuits involved in regulating immune system function, providing new hope for treating a range of inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic inflammatory response syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease,” Weber added. The technology could also be used to treat less tangible conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

For now, ElectRx is still in the development phase. DARPA is expected to soon release details on the program’s progress via their website, As always, the project will also need a thumbs up from the Food and Drug Administration before human use, but DARPA researchers expect this project to also help create a “more complete understanding of the structure and function of specific neural circuits and their role in health and disease.”

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