The term “electroceutical” is the combination of two words – “electronics” and “pharmaceutical”. The bioelectronics devices like defibrillators and pacemakers are the examples of electroceutical devices. In recent years, electroceutical has gained much importance in the field of medicine. In 2014, researchers from Stanford University, California, USA, invented a miniscule wireless chip that can be attached to nerves to relieve chronic pain and neuro-degenerative diseases. Thus, electroceuticals may be regarded as a novel category of therapeutic agents that functions by targeting the neural circuits of different organs. The bioelectronics therapy involves mapping the neural circuit and delivering neural impulses to the specific targets. Electroceutical approach is widely used in cardiology, neurology, tissue engineering, tissue repair, infection and wound healing studies. In 2018 a group of researchers from The Ohio State University, Columbus, USA, developed tissue nano transfection technology (TNT) in regenerative medicine and published their work in Nature Nanotechnology (impact factor 31.538). The mechanism of the chip that was developed by them is: at first the channels of the chip are loaded with specific reprogramming factors (DNA or proteins) and it was placed on the skin. A small electrical current disturbs the channels of the chip, which results in driving the reprogramming factors into the cell through cell membranes. This process is termed as tissue nano transfection and takes milliseconds to complete. This chip can actually help to heal injuries and reduce rate of amputation. The research group used these chips to reprogram skin cells into vascular cells in rodent model and found that not only did the TNT regenerate new blood vessels and restores normal blood flow to injured legs of the mice, but also the mice regained the strength of those limbs within two weeks of treatment.
Electroceutical finds its application in wound healing by killing the bacteria around the wound. There are electroceutical bandages that can deliver small electrical current to destroy the bacterial biofilm around the wound. It was reported that the electrical bandage can kill the bacteria even after two days of turning off the current, though the healthy skin nearby the wound remains unaffected. This approach of killing bacteria by electric current is a potential alternative to antibiotic treatment, especially, when a person becomes resistance to common antibiotics.
Last but not the least, electroceutical PPE became popular during the pandemic time. It was shown by the researchers of Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, USA, that viral particles are easily destabilized by the electric charge. The team developed an electroceutical mask that wirelessly generate electric field across the surface of the mask and disrupt the viral particles in contact. The mask material is made up of polyester with alternating spots of zinc and silver, spaced at 1mm from each other. Special feature of this type of mask is that, it will behave as normal fabric when it is dry. But when this electroceutical mask will become wet by saliva, body fluids, coughed droplets – ions present in the fluids will induce electrochemical reaction. The silver and zinc particles generate weak electricity that zaps viral particles on the surface.
It can be concluded that electroceutical is a very promising therapeutic approach to manage or treat many human physiological disorders.