Research Snapshot: Drs. Michael Sunshine and David Fuller

An abstract diagram, showing a dummy model attahed to wires and lines to pills and a electro frequency recording device

By Eli Golde

New preclinical research led by UF neuroscientists demonstrates a novel method to restore breathing following opioid overdose or spinal cord injury. This approach uses a form of electrical stimulation called temporal interference. The rodent-model study appears in the latest issue of the journal Communications Biology.

The work by researchers at UF’s Breathing Research and Therapeutics Center included international collaborators and found that temporal interference stimulation could prevent fatal apnea after opioid overdose in rats. Additional work showed that temporal interference could restore breathing after cervical spinal cord injury.

In one demonstration, temporal interference stimulation was delivered after opioid overdose using easily placed intramuscular wires. The stimulation instantly activated the diaphragm to resume normal breathing function, the authors reported.

In a second test, temporal interference was used to activate spinal motor neurons following injury to the spinal cord. This stimulation produced normal diaphragm activation, the researchers found.

“The advantage of temporal interference stimulation is that stimulating electrodes can be placed at quite a distance from the target,” said senior author David Fuller, Ph.D., a professor of physical therapy in the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions. “These results could lead to new options for first responders needing to rapidly stimulate breathing after drug overdose or therapists aiming to improve breathing after neurological injury.”

The study was led by a UF team including Fuller and Michael Sunshine, a predoctoral fellow in the Rehabilitation Science Ph.D. program.

Read the paper in Communications Biology.