Investigational use of deep brain stimulation for Alzheimer’s disease has arrived in the United States.
As a part of a new multicenter trial funded by the National Institute on Aging and Functional Neuromodulation, the ADvance Study, Johns Hopkins University neurosurgeons recently implanted the first device into a patient with mild Alzheimer’s disease. Through two implanted ultrathin wires, the device delivers 4- to 8-V electrical charges directly to the fornix on both sides of the brain. The fornix is one of the first brain regions to be destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers hope that the procedure will boost memory and reverse cognitive decline.
“Recent failures in Alzheimer’s disease trials using drugs such as those designed to reduce the buildup of beta amyloid plaques in the brain have sharpened the need for alternative strategies,” said Paul B. Rosenberg, MD, an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and a site director of the trial’s Johns Hopkins location. “This is a very different approach, whereby we are trying to enhance the function of the brain mechanically.”