Bioelectronic Meds Stimulate Nerves in New Way to Treat Diseases

The National Institute of Health is backed by $248 million to undertake mapping of body’s electrical wiring.

Electroceuticals explore regenerative properties of electrical current.

The growing field of bioelectronics has a great therapeutic potential. Because of its capacity to target specific body tissue, instead of “blasting the whole immune system with a drug”, as Brian Litt, a bioengineer at the University of Pennsylvania, told to Nature magazine, one day it could supersede the drug industry.

In The Body Electric: Electromagnetism And The Foundation of Life , Gary Selden presented decades of research Robert O. Baker spent trying to revive the theory of bioelectromagnetic foundations of life, contrary to the conventional wisdom of purely mechanistic and chemical model of the body.
Dr Robert C.Beck, self-healing guru, also experimented with the healing properties of electricity. He often referred to the work of William D Lymen and Steven Kaali, researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City, who established the model of therapeutic treatment with electrical current for which he claimed proved successful in 95% of patients suffering from AIDS and some types of cancer. Their research from early 1990s was, according to Dr Beck, suppressed by pharmaceutical lobby and manufacturers of medical equipment.

Although most of the research along these lines was previously been disapproved by a large portion of the scientific community,now many are finding that there might be something in it after all. The National Institute of Health is backed by $248 million to undertake mapping of body’s electrical wiring. All of our body’s cells use electricity, but some are more responsive to electrical stimulus than others.
Bioelectronic medicine is now hailed as a revolutionary new approach in medicine. It is based on the use of low voltage electrical charges to target neural circuits of a particular organ in order to manipulate its function and treat different diseases. This relatively unexplored territory of medical research is also known as electroceuticals.

By using tiny implants which are designed to stimulate specific nerve, doctors are able to manipulate functions of a specific tissue within the human body, which then releases natural chemicals to counteract the disease. That way, the body is enabled to treat itself, without the help of manufactured drugs.
First successful applications of electrical nerve stimulation were pacemakers, cochlear implants which help restore hearing, retinal implants which can partially restore vision, and deep-brain implants, so-called brain pacemakers, which treat Parkinson’s.

Now there is an array of devices based on this platform that are in their early stages of development, which can potentially treat a variety of diseases, like cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, obesity, lupus, even cancer.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved an implant by Inspire Medical Systems, a company from Minneapolis, Minnesota, that treats sleep apnea by keeping breathing passageways open through the production of mild electrical stimulus to a nerve in the neck. Last month , another device that uses similar technology to treat obesity, has also been approved by the FDA. Maestro Rechargeable System from EnteroMedics Inc. represents the first weight loss device that uses small electrical pulses to control signals between the brain and the stomach, thus regulating appetite. Their device, called VBLOC, can be a new hope for 79 million obese Americans.

We should also mention SetPoint Medical, the first company in the world that successfully treated patients with rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s Disease with implantable nerve stimulators.

Bioelectronic medicine with its implantable electronic devices emerges as one of the most promising areas of medical research. The British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has already created $50 million fund to back up several startups in the field. We have already mentioned the National Institutes of Health initiative to trace the neural pathways in the human body and its electrical activity, to be able to develop devices that can stimulate appropriate nerves and treat diseases. Electroceuticals is obviously where medicine is headed.