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World’s first Bio-electronic medicine

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    22nd Oct, 2018
  • Recently scientists from the US have developed the first bio-electronic medicine -- an implantable, biodegradable wireless device that speeds nerve regeneration and improves the healing of a damaged nerve.
  • The technology called as "bio-electronic medicine" provides therapy and treatment over a clinically relevant period of time and directly at the site where it's needed, thereby reducing side effects or risks associated with conventional, permanent implants.
  • While the device has not been tested in humans, the findings offer promise as a future therapeutic option for nerve injury patients.

Context

  • Recently scientists from the US have developed the first bio-electronic medicine -- an implantable, biodegradable wireless device that speeds nerve regeneration and improves the healing of a damaged nerve.
  • The technology called as "bio-electronic medicine" provides therapy and treatment over a clinically relevant period of time and directly at the site where it's needed, thereby reducing side effects or risks associated with conventional, permanent implants.
  • While the device has not been tested in humans, the findings offer promise as a future therapeutic option for nerve injury patients.

About

  • Researchers at the Washington University in the US have developed a device that delivers regular pulses of electricity to damaged peripheral nerves in rats after a surgical repair process, accelerating the regrowth of nerves in their legs and enhancing the ultimate recovery of muscle strength and control

  • The device is of the size of a dime and the thickness of a sheet of paper and operates for about two weeks before naturally absorbing into the body.
  • The device is powered and controlled wirelessly by a transmitter outside the body that acts much like a cell-phone charging mat.
  • For cases requiring surgery, standard practice is to administer some electrical stimulation during the surgery to aid recovery. However, until now, doctors have lacked a means to continuously provide that added boost at various time points throughout the recovery and healing process.
  • New versions can provide electrical pulses for weeks before degrading. T
  • It can degrade in the body, thereby eliminating need of a second surgery to remove a non-biodegradable device. This reduces additional risk to the patient.

Significance

  • The researchers envision that such transient engineered technologies one day could complement or replace pharmaceutical treatments for a variety of medical conditions in humans.
  • These engineered systems provide active, therapeutic function in programmable, dosed format and then naturally disappear into body, without trace.
  • With this device, it has been shown that electrical stimulation given on scheduled basis during surgery can further enhance nerve recovery.
  • No adverse biological effects from device and its reabsorption were found.
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