Journal Club: Restoring a Reflex

Aaron Phillips and Lauren Richardson

Posted March 9, 2021

In a healthy person, your body automatically adjusts blood pressure constantly, and this adjustment is governed by what’s called the baroreflex. However, a spinal cord injury can disrupt this reflex, which has both short term consequences, like passing out, but also long term consequences like an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. On this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, host Lauren Richardson is joined by Dr. Aaron Phillips of the University of Calgary to talk about his group’s recent article “Neuroprosthetic baroreflex controls haemodynamics after spinal cord injury“, by Squair et al., published in Nature, which aims to reinstate this reflex in patients after a spinal cord injury using a neuroprosthetic device. This device both senses blood pressure changes and then activates the necessary neuronal structures to restore the connection to the blood vessels. We discuss how his group determined which neuronal structures to stimulate, how they developed this medical device, and the exciting results from their studies in rats, non-human primates and humans.