Encouraging results for a brain implant for Gilles de la Tourette syndrome

Tests carried out on patients with Gilles de la Tourette syndrome and consisting of the implantation of an electrode which sends electrical impulses in an area of ​​the brain have proved to be very encouraging.

Tourette’s Syndrome is a neurological condition that causes sudden, involuntary tics in the form of movements or vocalizations in people who have it and it affects around 1 in 2,000 people (orpha). This real handicap could be mitigated in the future according to the conclusions of a study by the Langone Medical Center of New York University and published in the Journal of Neurosurgery..

While some treatments exist and manage to lessen the effects in some patients, this is not the case for all people with this syndrome. To combat Parkinson’s disease, a deep brain stimulation (DBS) technique has proven effective. It is being studied against obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and severe depression. This consists of the stimulation of a targeted cerebral zone by means of a directly implanted electrode.

According to researchers from the Langone Medical Center who publish this study, this technique is also effective in mitigating the effects of Gilles de la Tourette syndrome. To reach this conclusion, they equipped thirteen patients with the syndrome and on whom the various treatments proved ineffective with this implant, patients whom they then followed for seven years. At the end of these seven years, they observed an average reduction in the severity of tics of 37% just after implantation and 50% in the long term.

The main obstacle remains to find the exact origin of this syndrome in the brain, still unknown until now.  » Our current knowledge suggests that while we may not know the exact source of disease, we do know that it affects an entire circuit that consists of many different brain nodes. It is therefore possible to treat it via a number of different approaches by targeting different nodes “, explains Alon Mogilner, in charge of the works.

Despite this lack of information on the origin of the disease, the researchers believe that this technique is  » effective and relatively safe ». It remains to carry out work on a larger scale to hope to obtain authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for clinical use.

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