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The Future of Medicine: Bio Electronic Medicine

Researchers develop a biomedicine to treat patients who suffers from nerve damage / Photo by Getty Images

 

Scientists all over the world are always searching for new ways on how they could help more people who are suffering from different kinds of illnesses and diseases. As technology progresses, the field of medical science also comes along with it. Researchers and innovators are making it possible for healthcare providers to achieve their dream of helping more people by providing medicines and new technologies that could provide a cure and heal them.

The nervous system is essentially the body’s electrical and communication system that wires together all the nerves and organs in the body. Technological advances have led researchers to consider how the nervous system might be tapped to control organ function and by extension lead to advanced treatments for several devastating diseases. Including epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stroke, and infections such as meningitis, encephalitis, and polio.

Bioelectronic medicine, a new and more advanced version of electroacupuncture is aiming to treat chronic diseases with electrical signals in the body by using miniature implantable devices in order to make sure that the organs will function properly. Science Daily recently shared on their website that the researchers from Northwestern University have finally succeeded in developing a bioelectronic medicine that could be distributed in order to heal more people suffering from nerve damages.

Biomedicine Helps in Nerve Damages

Eurekalert also posted on their website that the researchers from the Northwestern University and Washington University School of Medicine have collaborated in order to achieve their dream to develop the biomedicine. This biomedicine is a biodegradable wireless device that could be implanted to the patient who suffers from nerve damage. This device is made in order to repair the damaged peripheral nerves after a surgery happened to the patient.

The researchers and scientists pursued the idea of utilizing biomedicine in nerve damage because they think that it could help the rapid treatment of critical medical conditions in humans. Interesting Engineering recently shared on their website that the main goal in developing biomedicines is to have an efficient and direct treatment to the affected nerve area of the patient while reducing the risks of conducting surgeries when they put implants on the body.

The technology used by the scientists is a thin and flexible device that automatically wraps itself around an injured nerve and delivers electrical pulses at selected time points for days before the device degrades in the body. The device is powered and controlled wirelessly by a transmitter outside the body.

After conducting tests on lab rats, the researchers found out that the electrical stimulation produced by the device helped in repairing the muscle mass and muscle strength. They also found out that the electrical stimulation helped in the speedy recovery of the damaged nerve without having any side effects from the device.

A Glimpse of Bioelectronic Medicine

Bioelectronic medicine is a new approach to treat and diagnose disease and injury in a person. All major organs of the body are innervated, allowing the brain to both monitor and regulate organ function. Bioelectronic medicine uses device technology to read and modulate the electrical activity within the body’s nervous system, opening new doors to real-time diagnostics and treatment options for patients.

Neurosurgeon Kevin Tracey, the president and CEO of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, New York, and his colleagues were studying a chemical that blocked inflammation in the brain when they found out that it also decreases the inflammation in the spleen and other organs. Now, researchers are looking at how the modulation of nerve signals can control the part of the nervous system that includes the lungs, the heart, the stomach, the intestines, and bladder.

The field of bioelectronic medicine is aimed at interfacing electronics with nerves to specifically target the biological processes underlying disease. Bioelectronic medicine is now at a crossroads of the future of medical research where healthcare, technology, and science join.

The Promise Behind Biomedicines and Bioelectronics

Bioelectronics holds a promise to treat diseases effectively and without side-effects, but before this vision can become reality, science must make a few strides. The nerves of the viscera need to be carefully mapped at the level of nerve fibers and action potentials, so that the most optimal locations for device implantation can be identified, and neural signaling patterns for health and disease on individuals organs can be decoded.

But experts believe that the technology used in biomedicine and bioelectronics must be miniaturized to study largely unmyelinated nerve structure, irregular neuroanatomy, and movement of the viscera. Scientists suggest that it would be advisable to use optogenetics and nanoparticle approaches in deciphering, stimulating, and blocking action potentials, as well as ultrasonic and tomography techniques for non-invasive recording and modulation. Also, scientists noted that it is important to establish proof-of-principle for therapeutic treatment codes.

The benefits of biotechnology in medicine are without doubt staggering. Although many exciting developments have taken place in the past few years, with continuing research, it is expected that more and more revolutionary procedures, substances, and devices will be developed to improve and enhance human life.

 

Biomedicine is a wireless device that can be implanted to a patient to repair damaged peripheral nerves / Photo by Mopic via Shutterstock

 

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