How is the market combating Rheumatoid Arthritis?

19 June 2019


In the spirit of Rheumatoid Arthritis week, I will be taking a look at how technology within the medical device industry is advancing to combat a condition that affects one and a half million people in the US alone.

For those who are unfamiliar with this condition, you may be thinking that it is as a result of wear and tear on the joints, but rheumatoid arthritis is in fact very different. It occurs as a result of the immune system becoming overactive and attacking your body, more specifically the synovial lining surrounding the joints causing inflammation and pain, and in extreme cases paralysis.

But how can the medical device market combat this? And what can it provide that current treatments can’t? The answer comes in a tiny electronic device no larger than a 20p coin, or a quarter for the American readers out there…

In late 2018 a Californian based biotechnology company conducted clinical trials on a device no larger than a coffee bean, which could offer a non-injectable and pill-less option to treating this disease. The results were staggering. Of the 17 that were using the device, 12 reported a significant improvement in their symptoms after 3 months, and all 17 chose to continue treatment after 1 year. But how does this work?

Whilst the pharmaceutical options aim to decrease the activity of the immune system, thus slowing the rate that the immune system attacks the joints but leaving the consumer more prone to diseases. The medical device uses bioelectronic therapy to target the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve carries impulses from the brain to the area of inflammation, so when a person is diagnosed with RA this pathway of communication can become confused and compromised. The electrical impulses that are generated by this device can correct this confusion and change the behaviourism of the immune system.

Rheumatoid Arthritis, whilst rare, is still affecting millions of lives worldwide and it is advancements in like this in the field of medical devices that could one day potentially provide a safer, cheaper and better experience to millions of people worldwide. For more information, I invite you to read and donate at the Rheumatoid Arthritis foundation page.