A wireless implant the size of a grain of rice could soon offer relief to patients that suffer from neuropathic pain but don’t respond well to traditional therapies.
The wirelessly powered nerve simulators can be used instead of opioids to manage pain and the American-based neuroscientists behind the innovation believe it is a breakthrough that will dramatically improve quality of life.
“We’re getting more and more data showing that neuromodulation, or technology that acts directly upon nerves, is effective for a huge range of disorders – depression, migraine, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, dementia, – but there’s a barrier to using these techniques because of the risks associated with doing surgery to implant the device, such as the risk of infection,” said Sunil A. Sheth, MD, of UTHealth Houston.. “If you can lower that bar and dramatically reduce those risks by using a wireless, endovascular method, there are a lot of people who could benefit from neuromodulation.”
What makes this new generation of implant so promising is it can be placed precisely where it is needed through ‘minimally invasive bioelectronic therapy’. It is a development that will give hope to the millions living with neuropathic pain, which is responsible for around 40% of all chronic pain.
Sheth says the team hopes it can earn regulatory approval within a few years.
“We’re doing some longer-term studies to ensure this approach is safe and that the device can stay in the body for a long time without causing problems,” added Sheth.