Physicians from the Allegheny Health Network Join a Groundbreaking International Clinical Trial Exploring the Use of Deep Brain Stimulation to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease
“We know from our use of DBS for nearly two decades to treat movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor that the procedure is a safe and generally well-tolerated therapy,” said Dr. Whiting. More than 160,000 people worldwide have received DBS therapy for these conditions.
AHN is one of 20 sites in United States selected to participate in the ADvance II study which is also being conducted in Canada and Germany.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. An estimated 6.2 million people, or one in nine Americans age 65 and older, are living with Alzheimer’s disease; 72% are 75 or older. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease, and in its later stages, neurons in parts of the brain that allow a person to perform basic bodily functions, such as walking and swallowing, are affected. The disease is ultimately fatal and there is no known cure.
DBS for Alzheimer’s disease involves the use of an implanted device similar to a pacemaker and two attached leads that deliver mild electrical impulses directly to an area of the brain called the fornix (DBS-f), which is associated with memory and learning. Electrical stimulation is thought to activate memory circuits in the brain to fine-tune its function.
The randomized, double-blind study will last four years for participants, each of whom will undergo a standardized assessment for Alzheimer’s disease prior to implantation of the neurostimulator. The results of this physical, psychological and cognitive assessment will be used as a baseline measure as they are regularly assessed for the rate of progression of Alzheimer’s disease throughout the study.
After implantation, two-thirds of patients will be randomized to have their neurostimulator activated and one-third no longer have their device. Patients whose device is turned off at the start of the study will have it turned on after 12 months.
Throughout the clinical trial, study participants will be monitored by a multidisciplinary team of AHN neurologists, psychiatrists and neurosurgeons, including Dr. Whiting and fellow AHN neurosurgeon and DBS specialist Nestor Tomycz, MD.
To be eligible for the trial, patients must be 65 years of age or older, diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s disease, be otherwise healthy, and have a designated caregiver or family member to accompany them. during doctor visits.
“The results from the first phases of this clinical trial are promising and indicate that the treatment could benefit patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease by stabilizing and improving their cognitive function,” said Dr. Whiting. “To say that a positive result from this study could change the lives of millions of Americans affected by this debilitating and deadly disease is no understatement. We are thrilled to be one of the world’s distinguished surgical groups providing patients with Alzheimer’s disease access to this innovation. “
Under Dr. Whiting’s leadership, AHN’s Allegheny General Hospital has long been at the forefront of pioneering efforts to advance the use of deep brain stimulation. The hospital was the first in the west Pennsylvania using technology to treat essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease, and more recently Dr. Whiting and his team began the second phase of a clinical trial exploring the effectiveness of DBS to help manage morbid obesity.
If you or someone you know would like to know more about the ADvance II study, please contact the study coordinator Mary Fetter at (412) 359-4856 or by email: [email protected].
About Allegheny Health Network:
Allegheny Health Network (AHN.org) is an integrated health care delivery system serving the greater Western Pennsylvania Region. The network is made up of 13 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, Health + Wellness pavilions, an organization of salaried doctors, home and community health services, a research institute and a group purchases. The network provides patients with access to a full range of advanced medical services, including nationally recognized programs for primary and emergency care, trauma care, cardiovascular disease, organ transplantation, cancer care, orthopedic surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, women’s health, diabetes, autoimmune disease and more. AHN employs approximately 21,000 people, has more than 2,500 physicians on its medical staff, and serves as the clinical campus for Drexel University College of Medicine and the Lake Erie College of osteopathic medicine.
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