Medtronic device will collect data as it treats brain disorders

August 13, 2013 by James Walsh

A new deep brain stimulation system by Medtronic can sense and record brain activity at the same time it delivers therapy to treat Parkinson's symptoms, essential tremors and epilepsy. The data collected by the Activa PC+S deep brain stimulation system will be available to researchers working to better understand how to treat neurological and psychological diseases, Medtronic said.

The hope is that the new device, and what doctors learn from it, will eventually lead to development of a "closed loop" system that can automatically adjust its program to meet the changing needs of the patient. Currently, have to adjust device settings manually.

For now, the device will collect brain signals that researchers can use to study neurological and and how to adapt technology to best treat them, said Lothar Krinke, vice president and general manager of the Deep Brain Stimulation business in Medtronic's Neuromodulation division.

"Where we want to go and what we have already done in is to totally close the loop," he said, adding that automated programming could provide a number of advantages.

For instance, he said, with Parkinson's, the device may need to stimulate part of the brain only occasionally, rather than send a constant electrical pulse. Whereas, with epilepsy, the device could sense the onset of a seizure and time the treatment to head off the episode.

"This is one of the most exciting things that are happening in ," said Krinke, a former researcher.

Deep , or DBS, therapy uses a surgically implanted , similar to a , to deliver mild to targeted areas of the brain to control symptoms of movement disorders and other diseases. The stimulation can be programmed and adjusted to maximize symptom control and minimize side effects. More than 100,000 patients worldwide have received Medtronic's DBS therapy.

The Activa PC+S system is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for commercial use in the United States, and will be made available to physicians for investigational use only. It met the European standards of CE Mark approval in January.

The first implant took place in Munich, Germany, in a person with Parkinson's disease. The system uses sensing technology and an adjustable algorithm to gather at moments selected by a physician. That data will be made available to physicians worldwide for use in clinical studies. They will use the system to map the brain's responses to DBS therapy and explore new applications for that therapy.

The therapy is approved in many locations around the world, including Europe and the United States, for the treatment of symptoms of essential tremor, advanced Parkinson's disease and chronic intractable primary dystonia. In Europe, Canada and Australia, DBS therapy is approved for the treatment of refractory . DBS therapy is also approved for the treatment of severe, treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder in the European Union and Australia, and in the United States under a Humanitarian Device Exemption.

But Krinke said the business potential is even greater.

"The opportunity is huge. Even in our most penetrated market of Parkinson's we have less than 20 percent of the patients who could benefit from DBS," he said. "Less than 5 percent worldwide."

An estimated 1 million people in the U.S. suffer from Parkinson's, he said.

Deep brain stimulation is part of what is called , in which a device is used to deliver targeted and regulated electrical pulses and drugs to specific sites in the nervous system to treat chronic pain or other disease symptoms.

On Tuesday, Medtronic announced the first U.S. implants of its new RestoreSensor SureScan MRI neurostimulation systems - the first and only implantable spinal cord stimulator to treat chronic pain that is FDA approved as safe for MRI scans.

Doctors use MRI scans to detect a wide range of health conditions by viewing highly detailed images of internal organs, blood vessels, muscle, joints, tumors, areas of infection. But the machine's strong magnetic fields and radio frequency pulses can affect spinal cord stimulator systems. This new system is designed to reduce or eliminate the hazards produced by an MRI, Medtronic said.

Developing such MRI-compatible devices is key to providing a wider range of care, said Dr. Mehul J. Desai, director of spine, pain medicine and research at Metro Orthopedics and Sports Therapy in Silver Spring, Md. He is among the first physicians in the U.S. to implant the Medtronic device.

Often, he said, patients suffering from chronic pain have other conditions that make MRI scans necessary.

"It's a huge deal in my opinion," he said. "It directly helps me in the conditions I am treating expand my diagnostic options."

Explore further: Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center implants one of first MRI-safe devices for pain

Related Stories

Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center implants one of first MRI-safe devices for pain

August 6, 2013
Neurosurgeons at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center are among the first in the United States to successfully implant an MRI-safe spinal cord stimulator to help patients suffering from chronic back or limb pain.

Butler and Rhode Island hospitals to test 'brain pacemaker' for Alzheimer's disease

June 6, 2013
Together, Butler Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital are participating in The ADvance Study, a clinical trial investigating the use of deep brain stimulation (DBS) as a treatment for patients with Alzheimer's disease. The ...

Study finds factors that may cause fluctuations in deep brain stimulation levels over time

July 11, 2013
Deep brain stimulation therapy blocks or modulates electrical signals in the brain to improve symptoms in patients suffering from movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease, essential tremor and dystonia, but a new study ...

Responsive brain stimulation could improve life for Parkinson's sufferers

July 15, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers in Oxford have demonstrated a significant improvement in the treatment of advanced Parkinson's disease with deep brain stimulation.

Deep brain stimulation studied as last-ditch obesity treatment

June 13, 2013
(HealthDay)—For the first time, researchers have shown that implanting electrodes in the brain's "feeding center" can be safely done—in a bid to develop a new treatment option for severely obese people who fail to shed ...

Recommended for you

New neuron-like cells allow investigation into synthesis of vital cellular components

January 22, 2018
Neuron-like cells created from a readily available cell line have allowed researchers to investigate how the human brain makes a metabolic building block essential for the survival of all living organisms. A team led by researchers ...

Finding unravels nature of cognitive inflexibility in fragile X syndrome

January 22, 2018
Mice with the genetic defect that causes fragile X syndrome (FXS) learn and remember normally, but show an inability to learn new information that contradicts what they initially learned, shows a new study by a team of neuroscientists. ...

Epilepsy linked to brain volume and thickness differences

January 22, 2018
Epilepsy is associated with thickness and volume differences in the grey matter of several brain regions, according to new research led by UCL and the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Research reveals atomic-level changes in ALS-linked protein

January 18, 2018
For the first time, researchers have described atom-by-atom changes in a family of proteins linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a group of brain disorders known as frontotemporal dementia and degenerative diseases ...

Fragile X finding shows normal neurons that interact poorly

January 18, 2018
Neurons in mice afflicted with the genetic defect that causes Fragile X syndrome (FXS) appear similar to those in healthy mice, but these neurons fail to interact normally, resulting in the long-known cognitive impairments, ...

How your brain remembers what you had for dinner last night

January 17, 2018
Confirming earlier computational models, researchers at University of California San Diego and UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Arizona and Louisiana, report that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus ...


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.