The Common Fund’s Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC) program accelerates development of therapeutic devices that modulate electrical activity in nerves to improve organ function. This therapeutic strategy, also known as “bioelectronic medicine,” could offer new treatment options for diverse diseases and conditions such as hypertension, heart failure, gastrointestinal disorders, and more.
In stage one of the program, SPARC supported the development of new tools and technologies, mapped the connections among a variety of different nerves and organ systems, and created a rich public resource (the SPARC Portal, available at sparc.science) that provides scientists with cutting-edge information and tools for advancing bioelectronic medicine. Building on these accomplishments, in stage two of the program SPARC will focus on the anatomy and functional connectivity of the human vagus nerve (SPARC-V), build a new ecosystem of open-specification neuromodulation device components (SPARC-O), challenge the innovator community to prove new capabilities (SPARC-X), and will continue to share data and digital resources through the SPARC Portal. Through these complementary initiatives, SPARC will facilitate the development of new best-in-class bioelectronic medicine therapies:
SPARC-V (Vagus nerve mapping and physiology)
- The Reconstructing Vagal Anatomy (REVA) initiative is creating more precise and detailed maps of the human vagus nerve, a bioelectronic highway that carries two-way electrical signals between the brain and internal organs of the body
- The VNS Endpoints from Standardized Parameters (VESPA) initiative is identifying the physiological effects of altering vagus nerve activity to discover how best to stimulate nerve fibers for specific therapeutic effects
SPARC-O (Open-source neuromodulation technologies)
- The Human Open Research Neural Engineering Technologies (HORNET) initiative is developing open-source technologies and components needed to safely and effectively alter nerve function
SPARC-X (Neuromod Prize)
- Neuromod Prize is providing an exciting challenge competition that will incentivize groundbreaking proof-of-concept demonstrations of bioelectronic medicine approaches that will help patients, learn more at neuromodprize.com
Resources for advancing bioelectronic medicine
- The SPARC Portal is advancing bioelectronic medicine by providing open access to digital resources that can be shared, cited, visualized, computed, and used for virtual experimentation, available at sparc.science
You can learn more about the first stage of the SPARC program here.
This page last reviewed on June 3, 2022