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Bioelectronic Medicine: Applications and Future Prospects

Posted on Mar 25, 2020 by Anuj

Bioelectronic Medicine

Healthcare industry during the past few decades has witnessed phenomenal growth and improvement due to technological advancement and innovation. The hospital management, medical devices & equipment, pharmaceutical products, and surgical procedures all have gone under tremendous up-gradation and improvement. 

Bioelectronic Medicine is one such emerging domain in the healthcare industry which is likely to impact the lives of people all over the world in the upcoming years. Bioelectronic Medicine might seem like a novel approach; however, its concept has been in use since the 1960s when it was used as an electrical stimulation or artificial pacemaker. 

Bioelectronic Medicine is a compiled effort produced by the intersection of computing, bioengineering, molecular Medicine and neuroscience. Bioelectronic Medicine is helpful in diagnosis and treating diseases & disabilities. 

What is the concept behind Bioelectronic Medicine? 

To treat any disease, numerous approaches and novel therapies are under evaluation and development. But for this a detailed understanding of the molecular mechanism of disease is imperative. The drugs target the molecular structure in the body, usually a protein, associated with the disease, to produce desired therapeutic results. 

However, there are always chances that these drugs may off-target the molecules and result in side effects. Under and over-doses of drugs are a common problem that may cause serious complications. 

To overcome these challenges and provide customised treatment for the disease, Bioelectronic Medicine is being used by healthcare professionals. 

Bioelectronic Medicine is based on the concept of neural control of biological processes or systems that causes diseases or disability. 

Whenever there is an injury, the brain receives and sends signals to the vagus nerve. However, in the case of chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, the process of relaying the information gets hampered. But by implanting tiny electronic devices, the targets can be delivered to the vagus nerve. 

A study by Koopman FA, et al. reported that rheumatoid arthritis patients implanted with vagus nerve stimulator efficiently activated inflammatory reflex and hence showed significant improvement in easing the symptoms. 

To treat the disease a medical device is developed that will control or regulate the specific neural circuit which causes the disease. So basically instead of drugs, electrons are used as a treatment option. Bioelectronic Medicines can address the disease and disability in a more effective and efficient way than the drugs can do. 

Why is Bioelectronic Medicine important? 

Today’s drug applications are designed to work on the entire nerve of the affected area, while Bioelectronic Medicine is likely to detect and treat the specific nerve fibre which causes a wide range of disorders. So the ultimate aim of Bioelectronic Medicine is to provide a biocompatible and miniaturized device that can detect and treat the desired nerve in a precise manner.

GE Global Research (the research and development division of General Electric) is working on Bioelectronic Medicine Therapy for Targeted Neuromodulation. The aim of the research is to target the dysfunctions nervous system which is supposed to be the main contributing element of the disease. With this, the Bioelectronic Medicines are likely to treat chronic diseases and disorders such as Arthritis, IBS and diabetes

SetPoint Medical is currently working on Bioelectronic Medicine to treat rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s diseases, for this the company has conducted early clinical studies. 

Similarly, various other companies are working on Bioelectronic Medicine to treat the disease like retinal implants, cochlear implants, cardiac rhythm management etc. 

Bioelectronic Medicine and its  future prospects 

Bioelectronic Medicine has tremendous potential and offers enormous opportunities to replace traditional pharmaceutical Medicines. 

Bioelectronic Medicine has gained significant attention from large Pharmaceutical players and medical device manufacturers in recent time. Companies are investing in Bioelectronic Medicine research in order to gain profit and advantage from the potential and untapped market. 

Some of the key companies in the Bioelectronic Medicine industry include Galvani Bioelectronics, Medtronic, Bright Medical Ltd, EnteroMedics Inc.,  Nevro Corp., Abbott, Boston Scientific Corporation, and many others. 

Similarly from the consumer’s prospects, the development in Bioelectronic Medicine is going to be equally beneficial and remunerative for them also.  Consumers are likely to get better and newer treatment options which may get cost-effective in future with large scale production and improved medical care with fewer side effects.

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