The electrical stimulation of nerves is nowadays a standard tool in everyday clinical practice. It is used for example in diagnostics, intraoperative neuromonitoring and therapy. Neuromodulation, i.e. the influencing of nerve activity by electrical stimulation, is currently used in pain therapy, in the therapy of Parkinson's disease or depression in the form of deep brain stimulation and also of epilepsy in the form of vagus nerve stimulation. In the NEPTUN project, a positive influence on the functions of the gastrointestinal tract and the sphincter apparatus is to be exerted by means of patient-specific neuromodulation of the autonomic nervous system. The primary goal is the modulation of food passage and sphincter muscle functions via implantable electrodes on the relevant autonomic nerves. This requires novel, particularly flexible electrode arrays as well as suitable amplifier and stimulation electronics, which on the one hand are adapted to the anatomical position and on the other hand enable feedback-controlled interaction.
MCS is involved in the development of an abdominal implant that is able to measure neuronal activity in the abdominal cavity while at the same time allowing the targeted electrical stimulation of the corresponding nerve structures. Since our knowledge about the activity patterns occurring in the autonomic nerves in question and the consequences of their influence by electrical stimulation is very limited, detailed studies on these aspects will be carried out with the help of the system developed by MCS.