The concept of electroceuticals, often called bioelectronics, dates back nearly three centuries to Italian physician, physicist and biologist Luigi Aloisio Galvani. Even though we see applications today, including the basic example of pacemakers, the scientific community is only beginning to scratch the surface of the opportunity at hand to modulate the body’s neural superhighway to treat and prevent diseases and conditions.
In naming their new joint venture company Galvani Bioelectronics, GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) and Google parent Alphabet’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) life sciences unit paid tribute to the man widely credited for discovering animal electricity and pioneering bioelectromagnetics. In the world’s most ambitious efforts in the electroceutical space to date, the two companies have agreed to spend $715 million across seven years to develop tiny, implantable devices aimed at modifying electrical nerve signals. The investment speaks volumes to the potential therapeutic benefits of bioelectronic devices.
While several companies are addressing implantable devices, Endonovo Therapeutics (OTCQB: ENDV) is taking a different route in the electroceutical space. The company is focused on non-invasive devices for multiple applications, namely to prevent vital organs from failing by controlling inflammation through its Immunotronics technology and growing more potent stem cells with its Cytotronics platform.
The groundwork for Immunotronics was discovered through the work at NASA during research to help astronauts maintain muscle mass and bone density while in outer space. Endonovo has expanded upon the technology to direct it at treating liver disease and preventing liver failure, which are both diseases largely driven by inflammation in the liver. Immunotronics differs from pulsed electromagnetic field therapies of the past by using Endonovo’s proprietary square waveform, which is delivered using extremely short electrical pulses to achieve deep tissue penetration and illicit a more potent cellular response. In doing so, the pulses are able to promote an anti-inflammatory response as well as promote tissue repair.
Overseeing these efforts is Endonovo’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Leonard Makowka, who, amongst numerous accomplishments, has served as the Chairman of the Department of Surgery and Director of Transplantation Services at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and Executive Director of the Comprehensive Liver Disease Center at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he created a multiple disciplinary approach to the treatment of liver disease.
According to CEO Alan Collier in the below video, the plan is to first clinically document the benefits of Immunotronics in liver conditions (Dr. Makowka’s expertise) and then move into other critical organs, such as the heart and lungs.
“Inflammation is the result of an out of control immune response due to an infection or injury. In many cases, an implantable device is not even an option,” further explained Mr. Collier in a phone conversation. “Our technology is not dependent on simply stimulating the vagus nerve, as many implantable devices do. Using rapidly changing electromagnetic fields on the skin’s surface allows us to stimulate deeper tissues like organs to reduce inflammation and promote tissue repair without the need for any surgical procedure. There is a great deal of value in that.”
Drug companies have spent billions on small molecules and biologics to address a multitude of inflammatory conditions with little to no avail. According to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development (CSDD), the cost of developing a prescription drug that gains market approval is approximately $2.6 billion. This cost has increased 145%, correcting for inflation, over the estimate cost in 2003. That is why large pharmaceutical companies like GSK, who have seen declining earnings and drug failures, are rapidly jumping into the bioelectronic space. It is simply a matter of economics; it can take 10 years and over $2.5 billion to bring a drug to market. Therefore, the promise that bioelectronic medicines or electroceuticals bring, includes not only the possibility of reducing development times and costs, but also address currently untreatable diseases and reduce side effects of current drug treatments. The way that these devices work also allow companies to be able to slightly modify future devices to treat a variety of diseases, making 2nd and 3rd generation devices much easier and less costly to produce than the next big blockbuster drug.
Endonovo Therapeutics approach is different than most, it is developing non-implantable devices that deliver electrical stimulation non-invasively using Time-Vary Electromagnetic Fields (TVEMF) to stimulate cellular activity. Bioelectronic devices currently under development tend to center around the implantation of a vagus nerve stimulator, which appear to modulate organ function. Endonovo’s technology is much simpler to use and targets the cells and organs directly, rather than through the nerves. Its technology is also fundamentally different than implantable stimulators because the electrical fields generated by its technology are much lower in power than those used to stimulate nerves. The weak electrical fields used by Endonovo’s technology are used to enhance the natural regenerative properties of cells.
Endonovo’s technology already has shown tremendous promise in pre-clinical trials ranging from the reduction of acute inflammation to regenerating bone in animals. The Company is now targeting inflammation in vital organs and augmenting the regeneration of organs like the liver in the hope that one day transplants may be a thing of the past.
Endonovo CEO, Alan Collier, believes that his company has the ability to not only compete with big pharma and tech companies like GSK and Google, but also ultimately produce simpler, safer and more effective therapies.