New treatment method looks to still tremors

June 21, 2013 by Adela Talbot

There is no cure for tremor. That means for patients who suffer from the ailment – characterized by involuntary muscle contractions and shaking – ordinary tasks become increasingly difficult. Buttoning shirts, cooking a meal and even going out in public proves difficult for tremor patients, some who are likewise dealing with Parkinson's disease or Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

But Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry professor Mandar Jog, a neurologist at the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), is, along with his lab mates, working on helping tremor in an innovative way. What's more, his treatment is proving more successful than any other treatment to date.

This success was recently recognized by a $50,000 initial grant from the Ontario Brain Institute and Ontario Centres of Excellence.

"What's unfortunate is that there is no real drug out there (to treat tremor)," said Jack Lee, who completed his MSc at Western in 2011 and joined Jog's lab in 2012 as a clinical research associate.

Lee explained Parkinson's patients could suffer from tremor, in addition to other symptoms of the ailment, adding MS patients could also be affected and a new diagnosis – Essential Tremor – has recently been established for individuals who have no underlying conditions but are affected by . It is not yet clear what causes the involuntary movements, he added, and causes range from neurological disorders to increased levels of stress.

"What doctors can do, they will (prescribe) anti-seizure medications, not designed for tremor; antidepressants, which decrease anxiety; tranquilizers; or Parkinson's medication," Lee said of the current treatment methods. "But the long-term use of these has a huge list of side effects, and sometimes, the side effects are worse than the benefit."

The video will load shortly

There is also a last-resort surgery option available, brain stimulation by way of electrodes, but it is risky and expensive, he added.

'With the existing drugs not being designed for tremor, for out of 100 patients, (treatment) might work for 40 of them. And the decrease of tremor is only 30 to 40 per cent."

With the technology and treatment method Jog's lab has developed, a success rate of 85 per cent has been observed in a study of 47 patients. For those who saw an improvement, tremor decreased as much as 70 per cent.

So, what is this novel technology and treatment?

With a patent still pending, Lee isn't able to disclose too many particulars, noting Jog's lab has developed a technology that helps doctors determine where the tremor is coming from. Once the doctor finds the tremor, he then administers BonT/A, a serotype of the botulinum toxin and a muscle relaxant.

The use of botulinum toxin in tremor treatment is not new, but is, for the first time, successful because of new technology, which helps doctors inject it in the site of the tremor.

Jog, together with his post-doctoral candidate Fariborz Rahimi, an electrical engineer, developed the novel technology in 2010 at the Movement Disorders Clinic at LHSC. The recent study, lasting eight months, observed 50 patients, the bulk of which saw a drastic improvement after treatment. Because of this success, the study has been extended to two years.

To commercialize the treatment, Lee, who joined Jog's lab with a GEI Stiller Centre Scholarship for graduate students in both science and business, created a company within the lab, MDDT (Movement Disorders Diagnostic Technologies). He will collaborate with the Ontario Brain Institute and Ontario Centres of Excellence to spearhead efforts in getting health regulatory and industry partners on-board.

One patient in the study – a 35 year-old man – saw such success in that he was able to stay in the workforce.

"If left untreated, tremor gets worse. It goes to both sides of your body until you can't do anything, brush your teeth, feed yourself, cook, clean. There's a reason you don't see (patients) in a public setting. Some shake very violently, and can't go out. Unfortunately, most end up depressed," Lee said.

"For us to see the results we were getting – we were very surprised. And we're happy it will help (the patients)."

Explore further: Botulinum toxin a shot in the arm for preventing MS tremor: research

Related Stories

Botulinum toxin a shot in the arm for preventing MS tremor: research

July 2, 2012
Botulinum toxin may help prevent shaking or tremor in the arms and hands of people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to new research published in the July 3, 2012, print issue of Neurology.

Focused ultrasound for treating Parkinson's disease to be tested

October 12, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—After a promising clinical trial of focused ultrasound as a potential treatment for essential tremor, the University of Virginia Health System is launching a new study to investigate the scalpel-free technology's ...

AAN releases updated guideline for treating essential tremor

October 19, 2011
The American Academy of Neurology is releasing an updated guideline on how to best treat essential tremor, which is the most common type of tremor disorder and is often confused with other movement disorders such as Parkinson's ...

New technique for deep brain stimulation surgery proves accurate and safe

June 5, 2013
The surgeon who more than two decades ago pioneered deep brain stimulation surgery in the United States to treat people with Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders has now developed a new way to perform the surgery—which ...

Study finds brain-imaging technique can help diagnose movement disorders

June 13, 2013
A new University of Florida study suggests a promising brain-imaging technique has the potential to improve diagnoses for the millions of people with movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease.

Most patients stop drugs for essential tremor after deep brain stimulation surgery

April 7, 2011
Deep brain stimulation, a surgical procedure to suppress faulty nerve signals, allowed 77 percent of patients to stop the medications used to treat their essential tremors within one year following the surgery, University ...

Recommended for you

Faulty support cells disrupt communication in brains of people with schizophrenia

July 20, 2017
New research has identified the culprit behind the wiring problems in the brains of people with schizophrenia. When researchers transplanted human brain cells generated from individuals diagnosed with childhood-onset schizophrenia ...

Scientists discover combined sensory map for heat, humidity in fly brain

July 20, 2017
Northwestern University neuroscientists now can visualize how fruit flies sense and process humidity and temperature together through a "sensory map" within their brains, according to new research.

Scientists reveal how patterns of brain activity direct specific body movements

July 20, 2017
New research by Columbia scientists offers fresh insight into how the brain tells the body to move, from simple behaviors like walking, to trained movements that may take years to master. The discovery in mice advances knowledge ...

Team traces masculinization in mice to estrogen receptor in inhibitory neurons

July 20, 2017
Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have opened a black box in the brain whose contents explain one of the remarkable yet mysterious facts of life.

Speech language therapy delivered through the Internet leads to similar improvements as in-person treatment

July 20, 2017
Telerehabilitation helps healthcare professionals reach more patients in need, but some worry it doesn't offer the same quality of care as in-person treatment. This isn't the case, according to recent research by Baycrest.

New study reveals contrasts in how groups of neurons function during decision making

July 19, 2017
By training mice to perform a sound identification task in a virtual reality maze, researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) have identified striking contrasts in how groups of neurons ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.