Stimulating New Therapy for EpilepsyBy Gravitz, Lauren; Technology Review,
Publication Date: June 3, 2011
Article features a non-invasive nerve stimulating device used to ease epileptic seizures and treat depression. The trigeminal neural stimulator (TNS) delivers electric impulses to the trigeminal nerve, a large cranial nerve that emerges from inside the brain and branches to run down both sides of the face. The nerve projects to key parts of the brain that modulate seizure and mood. The TNS consists of a long, butterfly-shaped sticker electrode that affixes to the forehead and small wires leading from the electrodes to a small pulse generator that can be worn in a back pocket for 12 to 16 hours a day. The TNS was tested in a placebo-controlled study with 50 participants with epilepsy at the University of California at Los Angeles. About 40 percent of participants in the test group experienced at least 50 percent fewer seizures. This is comparable to the efficacy of the vagus nerve stimulator (VNS), a device that is implanted in the chest and costs at least 20,000 dollars. Beyond suppression of seizures, many participants in the TNS trial reported improvement in mood, a significant finding as epilepsy patients commonly experience depression. This finding was further confirmed in a small trial on treatment-resistant depression, showing 4 out of 5 patients going into remission after 8 weeks of nightly TNS treatment. At the time the article was published, the maker of the device, NeuroSigma, was developing an implantable version for patients who find relief with the temporary one.
Published by: Technology Review, Inc. (Website:http://www.technologyreview.com)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (Web Site: http://www.mit.edu )
Link to text: http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/37697/