CBS2 has learned that prescription medications as we know them may soon be a thing in the past.
As CBS2’s Kristine Johnson reported, they could be replaced with tiny, implantable microchips that can treat, and potentially cure, dozens of chronic diseases with “high-tech healing.”
“The chip will cure some diseases, and the chip will prevent others,” said Dr. Kevin Tracey of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research on Long Island.
The chip is implanted in the body, where it sends little electrical currents telling the nervous system to tell the body to heal itself.
“The diseases that can be treated by this approach is a lengthy list — cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s,” Tracey said.
The chip is Tracey’s brainchild. He is a neurosurgeon with the institute, and his efforts have launched a new field in healthcare–known as bioelectronics.
“The promise of bioelectronic medicine is to restore the activity of nerves whose function, for whatever reason — disease or aging — are not functioning properly,” he said.
Tracey said the technology is extremely precise, and there are no side effects. He compares it to how a pacemaker controls the nerves of the heart, except these new devices will control the nerves of the immune system.
“Potentially nerves to tumors, to cancer cells; nerves to the bowel and bladder,” Tracey said.
Clinical trials for multiple chips are currently underway, and positive results have already been reported in treating conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and even appetite control.
“I figured, what did I have to lose?” said Virginia Valles, who participated in a clinical trial.
Virginia Valles was one of the first to test a bioelectronic device for weight loss. Since starting the trial four years ago, she has lost nearly 100 pounds.
“You get this feeling of fullness. It’s like you just ate a nice, big meal,” said Dr. Ken Fujikoa, a weight-loss researcher at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego.
Instead of disappearing, drug makers such as Glaxo Smith Kline are looking ahead and funding research in this next frontier.
“Every single disease that we have looked at, we have found we could make medicines bioelectronically,” said Dr. Moncef Slaoui of Glaxo Smith Kline.
Bioelectronic devices are controlled by a smartphone or tablet that is programmed and monitored by the patient’s doctor.