We’ll be skiing at 95, living well past 125 – with our brains controlling machinery that’s symbiotic with our bodies. Or so said Geoffrey Ling, director of the biological technologies office at DARPA. He spoke about the sci-fi future of neuroscience while on panel this week at the World Medical Innovation Forum in Boston.
Ling was joined by Ajay Verma, vice president of Experimental Medicine at Biogen (hold the Idec); and GlaxoSmithKline bioelectronics R&D vice president Kristoffer Famm. The trio was tasked with discussing disruptive technologies in neurocare, and man, did they deliver:
The role that neuromodulation, specifically in the form of electroceuticals, will play in the future of medicine sparked just a really fantastic – and perhaps fantastical – trip down the rabbit hole of neuroscience futures.
Electroceuticals are small, implantable devices – the size of a grain of rice – that are attached to peripheral nerves to modulate neural signals. Famm pointed out that these newfangled therapies may actually work inordinately better than the pill.
Your standard small molecule drug is, after all, a blunt tool when treating something as delicate as a neuropsychiatric disorder. After all, the molecule you might want to control in the pancreas may also be made in the heart – so if you treat one thing, you invariably impact the other.
Regulating the electrical firings of neural circuit, however, can be far more precise, Famm said.
“Neuroscience reaches beyond the neuropsychiatric system,” Famm