Bioelectronics could lead to a new class of medicine

Jul 02, 2014

Imagine having tiny electronics implanted somewhere in your body that can regulate nerve signals and make symptoms of various disorders go away. That's the vision of the field of bioelectronic medicine—the emerging discipline that has made enough promising advances to draw a big investment by a pharmaceutical giant, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly news magazine of the American Chemical Society.

Ann M. Thayer, a senior correspondent at C&EN, explains that much of the progress made in bioelectronic medicine has been driven by university research so far. But more than a year ago, the British drug company GlaxoSmithKline dove into the field and is now funding about 25 investigations exploring disease biology and neural signaling. They are betting that the budding discipline will lead to a whole new class of medicines for metabolic, immune-inflammatory, respiratory, cardiovascular and other disorders.

Others are also heavily invested in the future of bioelectronic science. A few start-ups are working toward clinical applications. The National Institutes of Health is also advancing neuroscience with its Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. But scientists still have to work out some major puzzles before they can benefit patients. For one, they have to completely map out which nerves affect which organs and functions. Once that base is built, the field could be well poised to take off.

Explore further: On the road to improvement: EPA's troubled program on chemical hazards

More information: Shock Therapy, cen.acs.org/articles/92/i26/Shock-Therapy.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Personalized medicine has finally arrived—or has it?

Feb 26, 2014

As the price for decoding a person's DNA keeps dropping, expectations for personalized medicine based on specific genetic profiling rise. But translating an individual's genetic data into finely tailored medical treatments ...

Pharma firms turn attention to hearing loss

Apr 09, 2014

Hearing loss affects 36 million Americans to some degree, often leaving them feeling isolated, but it has received little attention from the pharmaceutical industry—until now. Small firms have brought a handful of potential ...

Recommended for you

Amino acids key to new gold leaching process

14 hours ago

Curtin University scientists have developed a gold and copper extraction process using an amino acid–hydrogen peroxide system, which could provide an environmentally friendly and cheaper alternative to ...

Researchers create designer 'barrel' proteins

Oct 23, 2014

Proteins are long linear molecules that fold up to form well-defined 3D shapes. These 3D molecular architectures are essential for biological functions such as the elasticity of skin, the digestion of food, ...

User comments : 0