Electricity in Medical and Clinical Sciences?


The first thing that strikes our thoughts, the moment we hear about electricity, is industry, infrastructure, renewable energy sources, urban development, etc. But how many of us realize that not only the robots and toys, but the all biological organisms also work on electricity, the difference being just the source. It has been long stated that electron exists in both energy form and in particulate form. These negatively charged particles are present everywhere. The functional activity of molecules and compounds is bestowed by the number and the potential interaction of its electrons with the surroundings. This also means that the drugs we consume act not only due to their structural configuration but also due to the electrons present in the constituent atoms that interact with the surrounding medium to create therapeutic effect.

The electricity generated in cells and tissues contribute immensely, if not fully, to their functions. There is also a greater chance that such electric flow and balance gets disturbed under certain disease and disordered condition and perhaps this could also form the basis of diagnosis and the medium for treatment. We have known that in ancient Greece the patients with headache were treated with electricity generated by torpedo fishes. In the modern times the application of electrocardiogram (ECG) and electroencephalogram (EEG) are most well-known for diagnostic utility of electric energy. Electricity of power ranging from that of physiological field strength to pulse field were applied for various purposes such as wound healing, stimulation of nerve cells and drug delivery. There is also clinical evidence for such effects. The electric potentials form the driving forces of various biological phenomenon including growth, development and physiological functioning. A clear and precise understanding of their generation and conductivity could potentially reveal the ways of healing as well. For this one has to devise sensitive bio-electric probes.

As the research focus is becoming more and more subtle, the role of space, gravity, vibration, electricity and the associated voltage potentials in biomedical phenomenon are becoming increasingly evident.In this context it becomes essential to study and understand the electric potentials in living cells and tissues of humans for potential biomedical and clinical applications. Munro Noble from United Kingdom has reviewed the trans-membrane electric potentials of neurological, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and retinal cells. The study revealed that in these cells, the electrons move to create polarization, generating electric potential. In nerve, skeletal, muscle and heart cells, complete polarization and depolarization occurred whereas in retinal cells hyperpolarization was notice. Variable extent of polarization was observed in non-contracting cells. These electrons are produced during oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria of the cells, also called power house of the cell.

It is interesting to note that most of the studies focusing on bio-electricity are emphasizing on decoding the molecular mechanisms of generation, detection and conduction of this energy form. The study is of immense relevance and importance for development and optimization of diagnostic and technologies in modern times where accuracy, precision, fastness and efficiency are highly sought after.