Electroceuticals: A New Paradigm for Treatment of Diseases

Electroceuticals are medical devices which make use of electrical impulses to stimulate nerves and tissues to relieve or alleviate various conditions of the body. Electroceutical devices are also known as bioelectronic medicine or bioelectric implants which are emerging as an alternative to pharmaceuticals as they are highly target specific and affect the body electrically rather than affecting the chemistry of body as in the case of the use of pills which in turn have various side effects. Growing prevalence of medical conditions such as neurological disorders (epilepsy, Parkinson’s, Paraneoplastic Neurologic Syndrome, migraine etc) have led to increasing interest in research and development investments for electroceuticals and cost effectiveness are driving the market of electroceuticals.

According to IQ4I analysis, Electroceutical devices global market is expected to reach $44,336 million by 2022. Factors driving the electroceutical devices market include, projected increase in patients with chronic pain, neurological diseases, psychiatric conditions, cardiology conditions, improvements in technology such as miniaturization, better battery technology, wearable, wireless micro-current stimulation are all contributing to growth of electroceutical devices market. Some of the opportunities which would further drive the market of electroceutical are increasing R & D investments in research, acquisitions of niche players to enhance product offerings and collaborations with academic universities.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, about 12 in 100 people worldwide are suffering from neurological disorders (i.e. ~ 800 million people), wherein 6 million people die as a result of stroke every year of which over 80% of deaths take place in low & middle-income countries. Also, around 47.5 million people globally are suffering from dementia which is caused as a result of Alzheimer’s disease and the study also predicted that around 10% worldwide are suffering from migraine. Growing prevalence of above mentioned neurological disorders has led to the development of the new era of medical treatment or therapy in treating neurological disorders i.e the use of electroceutical therapy as an efficient treatment option when compared to pharmaceuticals Electroceutical devices are categorized into internal or external. The Internal electroceutical devices are implantable devices designed to deliver electrical currents through an electrode (lead) that are placed inside the body through traditional or minimally invasive procedures. Some of the e.g. of internal electroceutical devices are Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS), Deep Brain stimulator etc, which are implanted using minimally invasive techniques. External electroceuticals are a non-implantable device where the stimulation is carried by placing the device at specific locations over the body to deliver therapy. Transcutaneous External Nerve Stimulation (TENS), External Pacemakers etc are some of the external electroceutical devices. When compared to external electroceutical devices the internal electroceutical segment held the largest market revenue due to technological advancement in microcurrent stimulation, transcatheter pacing system, minimally invasive technique and development of miniaturized devices.

Promise offered by electroceutical devices has paved the way for investments in research and development. British drug Maker Company GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) has shown special interest in electroceuticals and has set up a $50 million action potential venture fund on five start-up companies for conducting research on electroceuticals and $5 million for its own Bioelectronic research centre at GSK which has forged collaborations with 40 research universities. Similarly, National Institute of Health (NIH) of U.S. is also playing a key role in funding development of electroceuticals. NIH has announced funds close to $248 million for the development of electroceuticals. The fund is distributed to public and private research communities through Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC) for investigating the body’s electrical wiring and to develop future electroceuticals. Recently, in August 2016, GSK and Google spinoff Verily Life Sciences entered a joint venture to form Galvani Bioelectronics that will work on research, development and commercialisation of bioelectronic or electroceutical devices. A huge amount of funding activity is seen in recent years in electroceuticals industry which shows a great future in research.

The emergence of electroceuticals as a standalone therapy has started a new era in medical treatment as the electroceuticals effect the body electrically using low energy electrical pulses and transmit in a smart, localized and targeted ways and thereby effective in treating specific disorders. The present electroceutical devices make use of externally applied electrical impulses and further research would concentrate on the use of body’s own electronic signals for treating patients. The above stated advantages of electroceuticals has enabled it to emerge as an alternative to pharmaceuticals by offering a high degree of control in stimulating biological functions by avoiding side effects. One of the major challenges face by electroceutical manufacturers is to make the device smarter and smaller with advanced technologies.

Electroceutical devices are used for treating many existing neurological disease conditions such as chronic pain (spinal cord stimulation), neurological conditions (epilepsy, depression etc) and are being explored for development of newer therapy. For example, sacral nerve stimulation Interstim developed by Medtronic for the treatment of urinary urge incontinence and the only device been approved for bowel control. Likewise, in April 2016, Medtronic PLC received FDA approval for Micra Transcatheter pacing system which is the first FDA approved smallest and transcatheter wireless pacemaker system which can be implanted without any complication involved with cardiac wires/leads. These devices have been successful in alleviating conditions in patients where traditional therapies have had little or no success.

In the coming years, the technological advancements such as the introduction of organ regeneration apart from tissue regeneration for treating the wound, multi-point pacing technology, wireless micro-current stimulation, wearable devices and miniaturized devices would change the therapeutic approach of electroceutical devices use. New developments such as dust-sized wireless sensor (neural dust) that can be implanted in the body to monitor internal nerves, muscle or organs has been developed by the University of California. This battery-less sensor could be used to stimulate nerves and muscles to treat disorders such as epilepsy, inflammation and to stimulate the immune system.

Geographically, North America holds the largest share of the electroceutical devices global market followed by Europe due to favorable reimbursement coverage and high investments in healthcare infrastructures in this region. Asia-Pacific region is considered to be the fastest growing market due to increased healthcare awareness, improved economic growth & increasing government funds, large patient pool and rising aged population.

The major players operating in the electroceutical devices global market are Medtronic PLC (Ireland), Boston Scientific (U.S.), LivaNova (U.S.), St. Jude Medical (U.S.), NeuroMetrix, Inc (U.S.), Nevro Corporation (U.S.), DJO Global (U.S.), Enteromedics (U.S.), Biotronik (Germany), Philips (Netherland) and Cochlear Ltd (Australia).

Some of the other emerging and startup companies operating in electroceutical devices market are Asahi Kasei Corporation (Japan), Accelerated Care Plus Corporation (U.S), ActivLife Technologies (Australia), Atrotech Oy (Finland), Avery Biomedical (U.S.), Axonics Modulation Technologies, Inc (U.S.), BioControl Medical (U.S.),BioElectronics Corporation (U.S.), Cardia International A/S (Denmark), Cerbomed GmbH(Germany), Fukuda Denshi Co., Ltd. (Japan), Helius Medical Technologies(U.S.), IntraPace, Inc (U.S.), Lepu Medical (China), Life Support Systems (India) etc.


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