what is a bioelectronic medicine?
The nervous system carries electrical impulses – or action potentials – which control virtually every organ and bodily function. This provides a new “axis of control” in treating disease. Until recently our ability to influence the nervous system has remained limited. Technological advances have brought us to the cusp of being able to tap into this neural code, and to thereby intelligently modulate disease state by electrical impulse.
Medical devices that harness electrical impulses have improved the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease, paraplegia, and epilepsy. However, these early solutions activate or inhibit cells in an area of tissue indiscriminately, muddying clinical effects and relying on empirical evidence rather than a true mechanistic understanding of the treatment.
Future bioelectronic medicines will detect the action potentials in peripheral nerves and selectively and specifically block or alter these signals. Interventions that speak the electrical language of the body will become central treatments in a host of major chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension, arthritis, pain and possibly even cancer.