Friday, April 12, 2013

Treating disease with electrons: the emergence of electroceuticals.

As described in a recent article in NATURE, the emergent field of ‘electroceuticals’ is an exciting new thrust for therapeutic research. GSK should be congratulated for boldly seeking to catalyze rapid development of this area. The connections are readily apparent between the electroceutical approach, the Brain Activity Map efforts announced recently, and continuing developments in nanotechnology.

However, this novel approach comes with many questions and problems. Assuming that progress is made in treating a disease state using neuronal stimulation, how does one go about assessing benefit versus risk? In conventional drug discovery there are well-established approaches for evaluating potential toxicities at the pre-clinical and clinical levels. But it is not clear yet how risk assessment will be conducted in the new realm of electroceuticals where therapies may need to be based on the unique neuronal wiring patterns of individuals. An interesting issue for the future.

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