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

New chip promising for tumor-targeting research

12 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Researchers have developed a chip capable of simulating a tumor's "microenvironment" and plan to use the new system to test the effectiveness of nanoparticles and drugs that target cancer.

New star-shaped molecule breakthrough

18 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Scientists at The University of Manchester have generated a new star-shaped molecule made up of interlocking rings, which is the most complex of its kind ever created.

A refined approach to proteins at low resolution

Sep 19, 2014

Membrane proteins and large protein complexes are notoriously difficult to study with X-ray crystallography, not least because they are often very difficult, if not impossible, to crystallize, but also because ...

User comments : 0