In search of treatments for patients facing Parkinson’s — a neurological disease known to affect a patient’s movements — American researchers may have found a formula for improving electrostimulation techniques. In an animal study, the Carnegie Mellon University team identified a new brain region where the effects of deep brain stimulation (ECP) are longer lasting.
It is noteworthy that ECP is already a known technique for electrostimulating the brain of patients with Parkinson’s (and other conditions, disorders and disorders), but the effects of the treatment are, so far, momentary. In the procedure, doctors command small electrodes implanted in the brain and, with them, send electrical signals to the region that controls movement. As long as the equipment is turned on, patients regain control of their bodies. However, just shut down the system and the symptoms return.
“We’re kind of playing with the black box [o cérebro]. We still don’t understand all the parts of what’s going on there, but our short-term approach seems to provide greater symptom relief,” researcher Teresa Spix explained about the new finding. Last Friday (8), the study was published in Science magazine.
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New technique prolongs effects of electrostimulation on the brain
Carnegie Mellon University scientists merge two new approaches: short bursts of electrical stimulation; and the contact of electrostimulation with a different region of the brain, the globus pallidus. This region is known for its role in activities that require motor coordination.
“By finding a way to intervene that has lasting effects, our hope is to greatly reduce the stimulation time, minimizing side effects and prolonging the battery life of the implants”, said researcher Aryn Gittis. This is because the device needs to be constantly turned on for patients to benefit from the current technique.
“This is a great advance in relation to other existing treatments”, defends Gittis. “In other ECP protocols, as soon as you turn off the stimulation, the symptoms come back. This appears to provide longer lasting benefits — at least four times more than conventional ECP,” says the scientist.
The next stage of the research will now be to validate the discovery in humans, which will soon be done by researchers from the Allegheny Health Network (AHN). Neurosurgeon and part of the team, Nestor Tomycz explained that a randomized, double-blind study of patients with Parkinson’s disease is already being planned to evaluate the new electrostimulation technique. In the trial, volunteers must be followed for 12 months to assess improvements in motor disease symptoms and frequency of adverse events.
To access the full study on electrostimulation of the brain in Parkinson’s patients, click on here.
Source: Science Blog
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