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By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – A large study of deep brain stimulation to treat Alzheimer’s Disease is now underway at Butler Hospital and Rhode Island Hospitals, hospital officials announced on June 5. The two hospitals are participating in a multi-site clinical trial known as The Advance Study, investigating the safety and efficacy of deep brain stimulation in slowing the loss of memory and cognition in patients with Alzheimer's disease
In the study, a pacemaker-like device is implanted beneath the skin in the patient's chest to deliver electrical pulses directly to the fornix – a part of the brain that plays a central role in memory. Deep brain stimulation is currently FDA-approved to treat Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome and resistant Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
“Alzheimer's researchers from around the world, including those at Butler and Rhode Island Hospital, are committed to developing safe and effective treatments for Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Stephen Salloway, principal investigator for the study and director of the Memory and Aging Program at Butler Hospital. “We hope that stimulation of memory circuits can have a similar benefit in treating Alzheimer's disease."
This clinical trial stems from a preliminary study in six patients with Alzheimer's disease in Canada.
“The results of the preliminary trial are very encouraging," said Dr. Garth Rees Cosgrove, chief of neurosurgery at Rhode Island Hospital, chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and director of the Norman Prince Neuroscience Institute at Rhode Island Hospital. “We have seen tremendous success in using deep brain stimulation on many of our patients with other neurological illnesses such as Parkinson's disease, and it has truly been a life-changing treatment. If we can achieve a similar response with our Alzheimer’s patients then we will have the opportunity to improve millions of lives.”