DARPA Is Creating a Travel Adapter That Will Be Implanted in Soldiers' Bodies

The device will provide soldiers control over their own physiology.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Soldiers are often required to travel abroad to unsanitary places. As such, their bodies suffer the consequences of these long and excruciating travels.

Soldiers often suffer from jet lag, and even diarrhea, among other health conditions related to travel to unsafe places. And, as a consequence, they can end up feeling exhausted or even sick.


An implantable device

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is seeking to rectify that through an implantable device.

"Through advances in medical devices and synthetic biology, DARPA’s new Advanced Acclimation and Protection Tool for Environmental Readiness (ADAPTER) program aims to develop a travel adapter for the human body, an implantable or ingestible bioelectronic carrier that can provide warfighters control over their own physiology. The integrated system will be designed to entrain the sleep cycle – either to a new time zone or back to a normal sleep pattern after night missions – and eliminate bacteria that cause traveler’s diarrhea after ingestion of contaminated food and water," reads a DARPA statement on the new device.

The tool could indeed come in very handy as DARPA reports that data from 2003 to 2004 demonstrated that 2/5ths of diarrhea cases among soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan required medical attention. No statistics were made available on soldiers' sleeping patterns, but it is not hard to imagine that both war and travel are bound to disrupt sleep.

"The goal of the ADAPTER program is to produce the therapies within the body itself. ADAPTER will manage a warfighter’s circadian rhythm, halving the time to re-establish normal sleep after a disruption such as jet lag or shift lag. It will also provide safe food and water by eliminating in vivo the top five bacterial sources of traveler’s diarrhea. Both will enhance the health and mobility of warfighters,” said Paul Sheehan, Ph.D., program manager for the DARPA ADAPTER program.

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