An interventional clinical trial begins enrolling COVID-19 patients at Hospital Virgen del Carmen in Zarate, Argentina to evaluate the therapeutic effect of transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (TAVNS) in patients with pneumonia associated with the disease. Hospital Virgen del Carmen, the first health centre in South America to conduct such a study, will use Vitality Smartcable taVNS devices supplied by Nemechek Technologies, according to a press release.
Some COVID-19 patients have an excessive inflammatory immune response known as a “cytokine storm.” Vagus nerve stimulation is shown to suppress inflammatory reactions and may be useful in controlling the hyper-immune response that can lead to lung failure and death. Stimulation of vagus nerve fibres in the ear activates what is known as the “inflammatory reflex.” Much like the baroreflex that controls blood pressure, the inflammatory reflex signals the body to naturally regulate its immune response.
Hospitalised study participants will receive TAVNS for five minutes four times a day. After patient consent, stimulation will be given to adults with moderate or severe pneumonia not requiring mechanical ventilation, or critical pneumonia requiring a mechanical ventilator. Study patients will continue to receive standard of care treatment. Patients who choose not to receive TAVNS therapy will continue to receive standard care treatment. The results obtained in patients treated with TAVNS plus standard treatment and patients with standard treatment alone will be compared.
In a press release, neuroscience researcher and Nemecheck Technologies co-founder Patrick Nemechek (Tucson, Arizona), stated: “This study at Hospital Virgen del Carmen is ground-breaking. Resource-limited healthcare systems desperately need a cost-effective treatment to limit the progress of COVID-19 in seriously ill patients.”