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No more jetlag? DARPA plans a travel adapter for the human body


The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has recently announced a new program that aims to develop an adapter to support travelling military personnel.

No more jetlag - image showing human body with arms outspread made up of molecules with ADAPTER nearby

Image credit: DARPA

The program, known as the ‘ADvanced Acclimation and Protection Tool for Environmental Readiness’ (ADAPTER) will be dependent on advances in electronic medical devices and emerging scientific disciplines, like synthetic biology.

When military personnel are sent overseas or over long distances, they are susceptible to travel sickness and other ailments caused by disrupted sleep and limited access to safe food and water. For example, sleep deprived individuals are more likely to display lower awareness and weaker athletic performance.

With this in mind, the ADAPTER program will develop a travel adapter for the human body - an implantable or ingestible bio-electronic carrier that could allow military personnel to better influence their own physiology.

DARPA’s strategy is to produce the therapies within the body itself. For example, by managing an individual’s circadian rhythm, it could be possible to halve the time it takes to re-establish normal sleep after a disruption, such as jet lag or shift lag.