How does the stimulation process work?
Kaniusas: In this minimally invasive therapy, miniature needles are inserted 1 to 1.5 millimeters deep into the ear near the vagus nerve and electrical stimulation is applied. The surge triggers an activation impulse along the vagus nerve, which is transmitted to the brain via the nerve tracts.
What are some other therapeutic uses of vagus nerve stimulation?
Kaniusas: Vagus nerve stimulation is already being used to treat pain, epilepsy, depression, and cardiovascular diseases. But apart from these uses, there are many other conceivable applications since the therapy – like the vagus nerve – prompts systemic whole-body effects. In long-term collaboration with Dr. Constantin Szeles from the Medical University of Vienna, we have provided scientific evidence that this system works and yields positive effects.
How long have you been dedicated to this topic?
Kaniusas: I have focused on vagus nerve stimulation for the past fifteen years. It is – quite literally – an "exciting" topic that touches both mind and heart and helps people. As researchers, it is very satisfying to see that these innovative therapies are helping. It motivates you to keep going. Our latest aVNS system listens to the measured biosignals through the newly integrated closed-loop control system and sends its stimulus at exactly the right time, like an intelligent electric pill. This is an important step towards personalization. It’s also why our team expects better therapeutic success, reduced power consumption and, above all, more user acceptance.