A group of investigators under Dr. Christopher DeGiorgio, a neurology professor at UCLA, has reported promising results of a phase 2 clinical trial of trigeminal nerve stimulation (TNS) for controlling drug resistant epilepsy. DeGiorgio, a lead inventor of the technology that is being co-developed with California-based NeuroSigma, Inc., has been investigating its benefits for patients at least since 2006 when we first reported on it. The latest trial has shown that 40% of patients treated with the system had a significant reduction in seizure frequency.
The external stimulator, which is about the size of a large cell phone, attaches to a belt or can slip into a pocket. Wires from the stimulator are passed under the clothing and connected to conductive pads attached to the forehead. The electrodes, which can be covered by a cap or scarf, transmit a signal to the trigeminal nerve, which extends into the brain from the face and forehead and is known to play a role in seizure inhibition.
“TNS offers potential benefits — it can be delivered bilaterally (to both sides of the brain) and at high frequencies,” DeGiorgio said. “Since the electrical energy does not travel directly into the brain, TNS provides a safe method of brain modulation.”
The clinical trial showed that at the end of the 18-week study, 40 percent of patients receiving TNS experienced a significant improvement in seizure reduction, which is defined as a 50 percent or greater decrease in the frequency of seizures.
In addition, the researchers found that the TNS treatment also improved the mood of the participants. Since depression is a common problem in people with epilepsy, this finding could have significant impact on the quality of life of people who suffer from the disorder.
Technology page at NeuroSigma: Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation (TNS) …