Treatment with deep brain stimulation can provide lasting relief to patients suffering from previously non-treatable, severe forms of depression several years into the therapy or even eliminate symptoms entirely. This is the finding of the first long-term study on this form of therapy, conducted by scientists at the Medical Center – University of Freiburg. Seven of the eight patients receiving continuous stimulation in the study showed lasting improvements in their symptoms up to the last observation point four years into treatment. The therapy remained equally effective over the entire period. The scientists prevented minor side-effects from appearing by adjusting the stimulation.
The study was published in the journal Brain Stimulation on 1 March 2017.
“Most of the patients respond to the therapy. The remarkable thing is that the effect is also lasting. Other forms of therapy often lose their effectiveness in the course of time. This makes deep brain stimulation a highly promising approach for people with previously non-treatable depression,” says principal investigator Prof. Dr. Thomas Schläpfer, head of the Interventional Biological Psychiatry Unit at the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the Medical Center – University of Freiburg. Deep brain stimulation is a method based on mild electric impulses that can be used to influence selected brain regions with great precision.
Stimulation Takes Effect from the First Month On
The eight test subjects had suffered continuously for three to eleven years from a severe depression that responded neither to drugs nor to psychotherapy or treatments like electroconvulsive therapy. The doctors implanted razor-thin electrodes and stimulated a brain region that is involved in the perception of pleasure and is thus also important for motivation and quality of life.
The doctors evaluated the effect of the therapy each month with the help of the established Montgomery–Asberg Rating Scale (MARDS). The patients’ average MARDS score fell from 30 points to 12 points already in the first month and even dropped slightly further by the end of the study. Four patients achieved a MARDS score of less then 10 points, the threshold for diagnosis of depression.
Some of the patients suffered briefly from blurred or double vision. “We managed to alleviate the side effects by reducing the intensity of the stimulation, without diminishing the antidepressant effect of the therapy,” says Prof. Dr. Volker A. Coenen, head of the Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery Unit at the Department of Neurosurgery of the Medical Center – University of Freiburg. The doctors did not observe personality changes, thought disorders, or other side effects in any of the patients.
Larger Follow-Up Study Aims at Registration of Therapy in Europe
If a further five-year study with 50 patients currently underway at the Medical Center – University of Freiburg confirms the effectiveness and safety of the therapy, Prof. Coenen sees the possibility of registering the therapy in Europe. This would allow the therapy to be used outside of studies: “In a few years, deep brain stimulation of this kind could be an effective treatment option for patients with severe depressions,” says Prof. Coenen.
Original title of the study: Deep Brain Stimulation to the Medial Forebrain Bundle for Depression- Long-term Outcomes and a Novel Data Analysis Strategy
Head of the Interventional Biological Psychiatry Unit
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Medical Center – University of Freiburg
Phone: +49 (0)761 270-68820 or (0)761 270-50210
Referent für Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Telefon: 0761 270-84610
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1935861X17306034 Link to the Study
https://www.uniklinik-freiburg.de/psych.html Department for Psychatry and Psychotherapy
https://www.uniklinik-freiburg.de/neurochirurgie.html Department for Neurosurgery
Benjamin Waschow | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Programming cells with computer-like logic
27.07.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
Identified the component that allows a lethal bacteria to spread resistance to antibiotics
27.07.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.
Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...
Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers
Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
27.07.2017 | Life Sciences
27.07.2017 | Life Sciences
27.07.2017 | Health and Medicine