A new study has revealed that the brain communicates directly with the immune system, governing the body's response to infection.
The findings centre on the role of the vagus nerve, which the study suggests could inhibit rogue inflammatory response and treat a number of diseases when stimulated.
Located in the brainstem, the vagus nerve goes from the brain to the abdomen via the heart.
In today's 2007 Stetten Lecture, Dr Tracey, director and chief executive of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, will highlight his discoveries and the clinical trials that have been launched to test his theory.
Dr Tracey hailed the "surprising" finding that stimulating the vagus nerve resulted in a command being sent to the immune system to halt abnormal immune responses. He has christened this "the inflammatory reflex".
Inflammation is known to be fundamental to many diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer's.
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