• Kelly Owens

The research of today is the healthcare of tomorrow and we are only as far away from it as we choose

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

One of the hurdles we face in translating bioelectronic medicine from bench to bedside is a philosophical shift in how providers think about medicine. In 1769, Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot developed the first steam-powered tricycle. No one said, "Nah, we don't really need that -- we have normal bicycles and check out our horse and buggies... thanks, but we're good." No, it was revolutionary for the time. Then in 1885, Karl Benz was the first to combine an internal combustion engine with an integrated chassis and created a three-wheeled vehicle. The same day his patent was filed, Gottlieb Daimler also filed a patent for the world’s first four-wheeled automobile and featured the first high-speed gasoline engine. Then Henry Ford came along with the Model T in 1908, making the world’s first affordable automobile using assembly-line production with interchangeable parts.

For some reason, though, in the last forty years, we have become a society that celebrates the status quo. I get it (not really, but I can empathize). It’s more comfortable. The status quo doesn’t require us to get up every day and learn something new and do the work.

Medicine, however, should have never jumped on that bandwagon. Science progresses, and it is man who needs to play catch up.

Below is a video presentation that Dr. Tracey gave in 2018 at the Critical Care Congress. In it, he talks about the evolution of this research from his discovery of TNF as a mediator of disease, to monoclonal anti-TNF antibodies that led to the creation of Remicade, Humira, and more, to then talking about his discovery of the vagus nerve as the communication highway between the brain and the body, thanks to a small molecule called CNI-1493, which led to the cytokine theory of disease and hence, the vagus nerve as the 'Inflammatory Reflex.'

At the end of Dr. Tracey’s awesome presentation (linked below), there is about a ten-minute panel conversation of doctors discussing bioelectronic medicine. One of the doctors very thoughtfully and sincerely shared that when he first heard of bioelectronic medicine, it seemed a bit like sci-fi to him, but after listening to Dr. Tracey present on the research and data, he was able to understand the underlying mechanisms of the research, calling it a ‘spectacular, promising new field.’ He also shared his gratitude that he was able to participate in a conference where the organizers included Dr. Tracey's presentation on this revolutionary field of medicine.

Dr. Tim Buchman, the Professor of Surgery at Emory University and editor-in-chief of Critical Care Medicine, went on to say that the tagline the doctors in the panel were each wearing on their pin that day said ‘Right Care, Right Now.’ He went on to say that our understanding of ‘right care’ is "informed by discovery, by the explanation and frontiers of science."

When the other doctor said this is early to discuss using in patients, Dr. Buchman said, “We tend to overestimate the impact in the short term and underestimate the impact in the long term.” He went on to say that we need to “enable providers to do new care, better care, and that’s really what this is about. It’s about delivering the best care today and better care tomorrow.”

Every step that has been made in the last thirty years in treating inflammatory diseases came out of Dr. Tracey's lab, and millions of patients have benefited from it. Now, we are at the frontier of a new way to think about medicine -- a better way to think about medicine -- that delivers better care to patients.

We don't stop because we already have a horse and carriage, or the three-wheeled Benz, or the Model T. We keep going. The research of today is the healthcare of tomorrow, and we are only as far away from it as we choose.

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