U.S. Patent No. 6,610,713, entitled "Inhibition of Inflammatory Cytokine Production by Cholinergic Agonists and Vagus Nerve Stimulation," covers methods of treating a broad range of serious inflammatory diseases. The invention described in the patent embodies novel approaches to inhibit the cellular release of pro-inflammatory cytokines through administration of cholinergic receptor agonists or direct stimulation, including electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a major signaling pathway for the anti-inflammatory signal between the brain and major organs such as the heart, stomach, liver and small intestine.
For decades, researchers thought the vagus nerve was involved chiefly in the process of regulating the function of internal organs. In recent years, however, scientists have discovered that the vagus nerve plays a vital role in regulating the immune system. Specifically, vagus nerve stimulation has been shown to release a substance known as acetylcholine, which in turn inhibits the production by macrophages of pro-inflammatory, potentially lethal proteins called cytokines. It is the immune system's overproduction of these cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor (TNF), that can contribute to illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and sepsis.
Patent No. 6,610,713 stems from research conducted by the inventor - CTI co-founder Kevin J. Tracey, M.D. - and his colleagues at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Research Institute's Laboratory of Biomedical Research. CTI in-licensed exclusive rights to the patent from the Institute. In an article published in the December 22, 2002 online edition
Contact: Scott Solomon
Sharon Merrill Associates, Inc.