Bioelectronics set to hit $10bn within 5 years

The growth in neural technology and cybernetic start-ups will fuel M&A activity between next year and the end of 2025.

Neuralink, a company which is exploring threads that can help the brain communicate with computers, has made the headlines recently, but the large bioelectronics market has several key players, including established names like Abbott Laboratories, Medtronic and Siemens; these all hold significant market presence and regulatory capability and each is hungry for new opportunities.

Longevity.Technology: Bioelectronics has enormous potential for medicine, Longevity – and investment; the global bioelectronics market is expected to grow from $4.8bn in 2018 to $10.1bn by the end of 2025 at a CAGR of 11.17%. [1]

The FDA’s 2016 approval of Medtronic’s MiniMed 670G caused much excitement; the device was the first in a wave of new “artificial pancreases” that promised to monitor glucose levels and inject insulin into the bloodstream when needed. Jump forward 3 years and a team from the University of Cambridge under Dr Roman Hovorka outlined their closed-loop ‘artificial pancreas’ as being a more elegant solution, using an insulin pump and monitoring device powered by cutting-edge AI.

Meanwhile, another closed-loop pancreas system trial for type 1 diabetes from well-established Tandem and Dexcom, has passed a trial with flying colours [2], but initial reports indicate it doesn’t break new ground when compared with Medtronic. Acquiring nearly-baked solutions while using internal expertise for trials and commercialisation is something we expect to see more of from the big medical device corporations.

Boston-based medtech Beta Bionics reported on Tuesday that it has received priority review from FDA as part of the Breakthrough Devices Program for its​ iLet system​, which uses mathematical dosing algorithms to automatically control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. The company plans to start a Phase 3 pivotal trial for the latter version of the system in 2020. [3]

The new wave of bioelectronics covering everything from blood scrubbers to artificial lungs aims to link intelligent devices to neural functions, using AI and other technologies, to solve a range of problems. The AI inclusion could be a game-changer, as it could make the difference to a tricky skill-set that has proved an obstacle for big corporations previously.

Previously, Longevity.Technology covered the story of Dr Peter Scott Morgan a leading scientist who had used technology to turn himself into the first human cyborg. Technology and humans are becoming increasingly interlinked. Bioelectronics takes that link even closer and is looking like a hot sector for start-ups like BIOS and university spin-outs.

The possibilities are exciting; for example, a device might be able to help patients speak after a stroke, or NeuroPace [4] which is used to combat epilepsy. It received FDA approval in 2013 and has since provided a huge amount of data to help researchers understand more about the condition.

It could also be used to treat chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes or heart disease. These take up substantial health resources and require patients to take a cocktail of pills to maintain their quality of life. Bioelectronics could replace these pills, improving the way that brains manage organs – a field is often now referred to as neuroceuticals.

The concept of bioelectronics is not entirely new. Pacemakers are an established part of medicine, but concepts such as Neuralink take it a step further, exploring ways in which computers can be used to augment the brain. These technologies create a host of questions surrounding privacy, security and the purpose of medicine, but they open a raft of M&A opportunities.

Image credit: Gerhard Gellinger from Pixabay