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from left: Eugenijus Kaniusas, Babak Dabiri, and Andreas Dickinger. — Eureka alert via TU Wien

COVID-19, like many other viruses, triggers an inflammatory response in the body which is informed to the brain through the sensory nervous system. 

As a result, the Vagus nerve responds in an anti-inflammatory reflex. However, if this response is weak, it can further negatively impact the body.

A balance between the protective inflammatory response and the regenerative processes is required in the body at all times. To restore this balance, aVNS systems can be used, which is short for Vagus nerve stimulation of the auricle.

It is used to treat chronic conditions that affect entire organs. This therapeutic technique is minimally invasive. 

Scientists wanted to test whether aVNS would also support the healing process in severe COVID-19 cases. 

Researchers from different clinical setups worked closely and the team showed positive effects of Vagus nerve stimulation in severe cases of the virus where patients were about to receive artificial respiration.

The team published its study results in the scientific journal “Frontiers in Physiology”.

“The electrostimulation of the auricular vagus nerve did not only stop the inflammatory reaction in COVID-19 patients, but it was also able to counteract it,” Eugenijus Kaniusas, professor at the Institute for Biomedical Electronics at TU Wien, said.

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