For sustainable society


Healing wounds with state-of-the-art medicine utilizing electricity

Did you know that the human body always has low-intensity electricity running through it? It is thanks to this electricity that our hearts can beat. Electricity helps communication between the body and the brain through conversion of what we see and what we want to do to a weak electrical signal. Also, if there is a wound, our body cells generate electricity; this phenomenon helps the healing process of the scar.

In order to utilize this phenomenon for medical treatment, scientists are currently actively engaging in research for developing treatments that use electricity, and new wearable “electrical pharmaceutical” devices which are unlike large and heavy conventional electrical therapy devices.

Researchers at Northwestern University are developing a biodegradable implant (an implantable chip that decomposes and is absorbed into the body) that continuously sends electrical signals to the nerves. This degradable implant is soft, paper-thin, and the size of a coin. It is controlled via wireless operation, and can generate electrical signals for two weeks.

When implanted into the body, it stimulates cells directly to speed up the process of repairing the damaged nerves. After doing its job, it decomposes and is absorbed into the body, so no procedures to take it out are necessary. Its efficacy has been demonstrated in experiments on rats, with no side effects due to in vivo absorption observed. Further research is now set to be carried out.

At the University of Wisconsin, they have been researching “a bandage that can promote the healing of wounds using static electricity generated with body movements,” also exploiting this same phenomena. Efficacy studies continue.

Although still in their experimental stages, both of these “electric pharmaceuticals” form a part of a medical field which will likely see significant growth in the near future.