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Detecting Infection Before Symptoms Occur by Monitoring the Vagus Nerve

Antibodies and human brain with visible nervous system
Credit: Global Biodefense

The Biomedical Advanced Research Projects Agency (BARDA) has partnered with the University of California San Diego to development a low-profile wearable for monitoring vagus nerve signal changes as a method of potentially enabling pre-symptomatic detection of infection.

Dr. Imanuel Lerman will lead a team at UC San Diego, with the support of Qualcomm Institute, to continue fabrication and miniaturization activities of the Vagus Sentinel – Magnetometer (VS-M) system, creating a form factor device suitable for everyday use.

VS-M will be developed to detect pathogen-specific, localized infections before symptoms emerge, thus improving situational awareness and potentially preventing a pandemic.

Eventually such a technology could provide real-time information to public health and emergency responders of pathogen spread and allow them to provide timely prophylactic and preventative treatment, thus improving situational awareness and quenching the pandemic curve.

The effort is part of BARDA’s Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures (DRIVe) Early Notification to Act Control and Treat (ENACT) portfolio program, which supports the development of innovative products and approaches that aim to solve major health security challenges. Under this public-private partnership, DRIVe is contributing $557,340 of the total $796,200 project cost. UC San Diego will provide the remaining development costs for the In-Vivo Vagus Sentinels to Detect and Prevent Infection project.

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