Jared Huston, MD: Neural Tourniquet Development

JULY 29, 2017
Matt Hoffman

When it comes to trauma and surgery, one of the oft overlooked factors is bleeding. For Jared Huston, MD, bleeding problems in surgery could potentially become a thing of the past with an innovative device Huston and others have been working on for more than a decade: a neural tourniquet that can manipulate the vagus nerve to help control bleeding.

Jared Huston, MD: The neural tourniquet is essentially us harnessing the nervous system to control bleeding. Many people don't realize that bleeding is a serious disease. We don't really talk about it much, but it really impacts many different medical and surgical specialties. For example, I'm a trauma surgeon, so in trauma surgery, your most common preventable cause of death after you're injured in a trauma is actually uncontrolled bleeding.

Really any invasive procedure in medicine has some risk of bleeding, and so we think that not only surgery but in medicine in general, that physicians would benefit a great deal and patients as well. And so this device could be used, for example, by EMS workers who could carry the device in ambulances and they could treat patients immediately when they're injured.

I think when most people think of a tourniquet, they think of putting a band on the arm or something like that. Our tourniquet is a little bit different. We harness the nervous system by stimulating nerves and in particular the vagus nerve. The stimulation is done with a device – kind of a handheld device which you can actually put on the skin, so it's a non-invasive approach – and the device then activates the vagus nerve and then the vagus nerve, through the biology in the body, can actually reduce bleeding if you're injured.

We are planning to market a device, but as I said before, we are in a preclinical trial with healthy human subjects, and then following that we will expand into another clinical trial targeting a specific disease that is associated with bleeding. Then after that, we would apply for approval from the FDA. The timeline for that is approximately 1 to 2 years.

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