Tailored neuromodulation adapted to distinctive symptoms of individual patients is a quite common way of treating misfire brain paths in patients who are dealing with epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease. Now, experts from Dolby Family Center for Mood Disorder of UC San Francisco have shown that a novel personalized neuromodulation method has been able to offer some relief from severe side effects of drug-resistant depression within minutes. This method has been effective at least in one patient, said the experts. Experts have been developing this method as a potent treatment for a major fraction of people who are dealing with debilitating depression. They have said that the new treatment will be beneficial for people, who are resistant to currently available treatments and are at a greater risk of committing suicide. The co-author of the new study, Katherine Scangos has said that the brain is an electrical organ like the heart. She has said that it has been proven that the faulty brain networks, which result in depression, just like epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease, can be turned into a healthier state by a targeted stimulus.
In the past attempts to create neuromodulation for depression, experts have used stimulations in the same part of the brain in all patients on a regular time span. These attempts have failed to particularly target the pathological brain sites in patients. It is a known fact that depression affects people in very different ways but until now, the idea of mapping out personalized sites for neuromodulation that match specific symptoms of a patient has not been researched well. The findings of the new study have been released in the Journal called Nature Medicine. Experts have looked at the effects of mild stimulation of many mood-linked brain sites in a patient suffering from severe drug-resistant depression. They have said that a mild stimulus at various brain sites has been able to reduce distinct symptoms of the disease such as anxiety. This treatment has been able to boost energy levels and restore pleasure in the daily activities of the patients. Nevertheless, the benefits of different stimulus sites depend on the mental state of the patients at the time, said the experts. They have said that the proof-of-concept study has set the groundwork for a five-year clinical trial, which is being led by Katherine Scangos. This trial is called PRESIDIO. This trial will assess the efficacy of personalized neuromodulation in 12 patients. It will be conducted on patients with drug-resistant depression. The trial will be based on the findings of the current study. Experts have said that the trial will find out brain signatures that show the symptoms of individual patients.
Scientists have said that with this information, neuromodulation devices can be planned to work in real-time on these faulty network states with targeted stimulation, which can bring patients’ brain circuits back to normal mode. Depression is one of the most common mental disorders, which affects as many as 264 million people across the world. The disease leads to hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Experts have said that as many as 30 percent of patients with depression do not get any relief from standard treatments such as psychotherapy and drugs. Some of the patients do respond quite positively to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). However, there is a stigma attached to ECT, which makes it undesirable for many patients. A past study, which has been done by the author of the new study, Edward Chang has shown the potential of brain mapping to find out brain sites for mood-boosting brain stimulation. In the new study, experts have shown the usage of a similar brain mapping method to find out patients- specific therapeutic stimulation sites as the first phase of the PRESIDIO trial.