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Deep Brain Stimulation continues to show promise for patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease

July 21, 2016
New findings published today by a team of researchers led by Dr. Andres Lozano at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre (KNC) of Toronto Western Hospital (TWH) have provided further insight into the effects of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Forty-two patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind multicentre phase II clinical trial and implanted with DBS electrodes directed at the fornix – a bundle of nerve fibres in the brain that carry signals from the hippocampus. To better measure the impact of electrical stimulation in the brain, patients were then randomly assigned to either the “on” or “off” stimulation group and monitored for the 12 months following their procedure. Once the trial follow up was complete, all patients then had their electrodes turned on.

Results from the trial showed that DBS stimulation of the fornix (DBS-f) continues to be safe and that, although overall there were no differences in cognitive outcomes between the “on” and “off” study participants, those 65 years of age and older appeared to derive more benefit from stimulation than those under the age of 65.

Another finding of interest was that the brain’s ability to metabolize glucose increased over the year-long study period in patients receiving electrical stimulation, indicating that the brain networks made dysfunctional by Alzheimer’s improved in some ways.

“We are encouraged by these findings as they indicate we are headed in the right direction with our research on DBS as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Andres Lozano, neurosurgeon and the lead author of the study. “We now have a better idea of which patients will benefit most from this treatment and how the stimulation might slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.”

“The next phase of our research will focus on determining what stimulation dosage will have the most impact against this disease,” adds Lozano who is also University Professor and Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Toronto.

The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and will be used for the recruitment of a phase III clinical trial to refine the patient criteria.

Lozano et al. (2016) A Phase II Study of Fornix Deep Brain Stimulation in Mild Alzheimer’s Disease. J Alzheimers Dis, doi: 10.3233/JAD-160017.

For more information about DBS research including inquiries about eligibility to participate in future research, please contact:dbs@uhnresearch.ca

This research was supported by funding from the Krembil Foundation, the National Institute on Aging, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, and Functional Neuromodulation Ltd., the sponsor of the ADvance study.

For media interviews, please contact:
Alexa Giorgi
Senior Public Affairs Advisor
Toronto Western Hospital
416-603-5800 x6776
alexa.giorgi@uhn.ca

About Krembil Neuroscience Centre
The Krembil Neuroscience Centre (KNC), located at Toronto Western Hospital, is home to one of the largest combined clinical and research neurological facilities in North America. Since opening in 2001, KNC has been recognized as a world leader through its research achievements, education and exemplary patient care. The centre focuses on the advancement, detection and treatment of neurological diseases and specializes in movement disorders, dementias, stroke, spinal cord injury, blinding eye diseases, epilepsy and cancer-related conditions.

For more information please visit www.krembil.com

About Toronto Western Hospital
Toronto Western Hospital has been serving the health care needs of its culturally diverse local community for more than 100 years. Home to the Krembil Neuroscience Centre, one of the largest combined clinical and research neurological facilities in North America, the Toronto Western Hospital is a leader in medical research and also offers expertise in community and population health and musculoskeletal health and arthritis. The Toronto Western Hospital, along with the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and Michener Institute for Education is a member of the University Health Network and is affiliated with the University of Toronto. www.uhn.ca