Bioelectronics and Chronic Conditions: Riding the Biotech Wave of the Future

Within medicine, specifically biotech, there is a constant feeling of the future is coming. While this is certainly true, today’s patients have to deal with their current hand of treatment options, not one that may or may not be dealt. The speed at which change is happening may be accelerating, however, thanks to innovative companies and strategic partnerships.

One such development is the recently announced pairing of GlaxoSmithKline and Google’s Verily – formerly known as Google Life Sciences – to combat chronic conditions through bioelectronics devices, according to Popular Science.

Device Therapy for Chronic Conditions

This partnership could eventually deliver products that work within the body to target and treat irregular processes that lead to, and develop into, chronic conditions that currently affect millions of Americans.

“Bioelectronic medicine’s vision is to employ the latest advances in biology and technology to interpret this electrical conversation and to correct the irregular patterns found in disease states, using miniaturized devices attached to individual nerves,” said Moncef Slaoui, GlaxoSmithKline’s Chairman of Global Vaccines. “If successful, this approach offers the potential for a new therapeutic modality alongside traditional medicines and vaccines.

This partnership also represents a move “beyond the pill” and into different areas of treatment. Instead of the normal, traditional, approach to medicine, using an implant would allow for a more targeted, and perhaps more scientific, option for doctors and patients.

MedCity News reported that the research is in its infancy, but the goals are quite significant – they hope to create a device that is as small as a grain of rice.

Bridging the Gap Between Pharma and Tech

Such partnerships are made possible because of the ever-increasing search for new treatment methods to combat diseases. According to Reuters, this is just the beginning of the trend. Novartis Chief Executive Officer Joe Jiminez has said that combining pharmaceuticals and technology will one day be “front and center” in disease management efforts.

One reason that bioelectronics are such a viable tool in the fight against chronic diseases, and will become one of the main drivers for connecting pharma and tech, is their ability to provide real-time feedback on patients.

“It will really help us hone the intervention,” said Kris Famm, the recently appointed president of the GSK-Alphabet efforts. “This is almost the epicenter of convergence because the technology is not only helping you to monitor a disease but it is also actually the therapy.”

While there is certainly much attention surrounding the new efforts and potential development of a transformative new product, there are many hurdles that exist between now and a point that would be considered “success.” Regulators, multi-year clinical trials, and numerous R&D steps stand in the way, but there does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel. For now, however, patients need to work with the tools and treatments that have been vetted for safety and efficacy.

For those dealing with chronic conditions like diabetes, the promising future represented by biotechnology sounds lovely, but it’s a ways off in the distance. Diet, exercise, and constant monitoring represent the best defense against diabetes – for now.