Pioneering treatment could benefit people with severe depression

January 25th, 2011 - 5:31 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 25 (ANI): Scientists at the University of Bristol say that a neurosurgical treatment could help people who suffer with severe and intractable depression.

The pioneering treatment very accurately targets brain networks involved in depression.

The research led by Andrea Malizia and Nikunj Patel are pioneering a number of treatments including experimental antidepressants, deep brain stimulation (DBS) and stereotactic neurosurgery.

The patient, whose illness had stopped responding to conventional treatments, was offered DBS in the first trial in the world that stimulates two different brain networks that are involved in depression.

DBS in this case provided some temporary response but was not sufficient to make her well. She is now well following further advanced stereotactic neurosurgery carried out in early 2010.

Deep brain stimulation consists of inserting thin wires in the brain that are connected to a ‘pacemaker’. The effects are to inhibit and stimulate brain circuits that re specific to the condition being treated.

The current DBS trial targets different circuits involved in depression. These monitor the regulation of emotion, oversee the integration of emotion with bodily and intellectual function and regulate internal drives.

Some patients do not respond to DBS or are not suitable for it, in which case the option of an ‘Anterior Cingulotomy’ using implantable guide tubes (GTAC) has been specifically developed in Frenchay and this patient was the first to have it.

This operation also modifies circuits that are important in emotion and the academics believe to be overactive in a number of psychiatric disorders.

The study was to be broadcast on BBC One’s ‘Inside Out West’ Monday 24 January. (ANI)

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