Scientists have developed the first bioelectronic medicine — an implantable, biodegradable wireless device that speeds nerve regeneration and improves the healing of a damaged nerve.
Researchers at the Washington University in the US developed a device that delivers regular pulses of electricity to damaged peripheral nerves in rats after a surgical repair process, accelerating the re-growth of nerves in their legs and enhancing the ultimate recovery of muscle strength and control. The size of a dime and the thickness of a sheet of paper, the wireless device operate for about two weeks before naturally absorbed into the body, according to the study published in the journal Nature Medicine.
The technology, called “bioelectronic 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, researchers said.