Via the Therapeutic Neuromodulation Weblog
'After long wait, Medtronic Starts Big Depression Study'
(CNNmoney, 19 February 2009)
From the CNN post: 'Medtronic's study will start with enrollment of 30 people at five sites, but there are plans to enroll up to 200 patients from 20 sites. Patients in the study will have a device implanted, but for some patients, the device won't be turned on for the first 16 weeks - this way the trial can be randomized between patients who are receiving treatment and not receiving treatment.'
This is the first large (phase II) clinical trial in which deep brain stimulation (DBS) is applied to the human reward system. Previous trials (Schlaepfer et al, 2008) successfully alleviated anhedonia by applying DBS to the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), but involved only a handful of patients. The next step in the development of decent iPlants is for Medtronic and others to begin to consider how enormously valuable artificial motivation would be to individuals suffering from exceedingly poor self-control. Importantly, a study involving conventional DBS to hunger centres in the hypothalamus recently had to be interrupted because of a mnemonic side-effect (Hamani et al, 2008). At some point, clinical trials will appear where DBS is applied to motivate exercise in morbidly obese patients, as first demonstrated in rats by Burgess et al and Garner et al back in 1991.