By Jennifer Ernst, Co-founder and CEO, Tivic Health Systems Inc.
I recently spoke at the fifth annual Bioelectronic Medicine Forum in New York City that brought together executives and medical experts to discuss the latest developments in bioelectronic medicine. Attendees represented companies addressing a wide range of applications from cardiac and gastrointestinal disorders, to chronic inflammation and sinus pain and congestion, among others.
Some notable highlights:
- Bioelectronic medicine and neuromodulation understanding has come a long way in the last decade, making its way into the standards of care for a number of conditions, including migraine, sleep apnea and epilepsy.
An investor panel discussed how bioelectronics 10 years ago seemed an esoteric area for investment but today they no longer have to explain the high potential for the field. Investors across the board are interested in the many ways bioelectronic therapies are targeting organ, tissue and cellular responses to relieve chronic medical conditions.
This has made it an important and growing investment opportunity. Conversations now revolve around where the early commercial opportunities are and who is generating real revenue.
- More so than ever, I heard a real focus on non-invasive therapies like those we are developing at Tivic Health. As we discussed how these technologies are being utilized in the care continuum, from self-care to the most refractory patients, non-invasive technologies took front stage. That’s because non-invasive approaches are essential to moving bioelectronic options into first-line therapeutics.
Case in point: WebMD now discusses a microcurrent solution as part of the ways to treat sinusitis and sinus disease.
- Investors and panelists noted that pharma companies have become more active in the space. In many cases, they are partnering with medical device makers to create hybrid therapies to complement their own drug therapies with bioelectronic medical treatments.
At least three pharma companies at the event acknowledged that this is an area they can no longer ignore and want to bring it into their portfolios.
While many early adopters of bioelectronic solutions are drawn by their drug-free nature, the greatest health benefits may ultimately come from partnerships, allowing targeting of multiple simultaneous mechanisms.
- We continue to hear about closed-loop systems with embedded monitoring and commercial cases are emerging. For myself, I have to note that real-time closed-loop systems are not a holy grail. In some cases, such as monitoring how a nerve is receiving a signal, real-time makes complete sense, or how a physiological response like tremors are changing
However, real-time closed-loop monitoring will not provide a complete understanding the body’s response to neural stimulation. There’s a big difference between real-time monitoring and outcome monitoring.
Neural stimulation effects on the nervous system can develop over several minutes, hours or days, so real-time feedback may be less important for optimal therapy than monitoring for outcomes over the course of treatment.
This event captured an incredibly exciting moment for bioelectronic medicine and its potential impact on consumers in the near future. Congratulations to Jim Cavuto and his team at Neurotech Reports for bringing us together for this important conference.
I was pleased to carry some of this information to the stage at Fortune Brainstorm: Health just a few weeks later. It will take our entire village to get the message out.