The first precise gene DBS device for Parkinson’s disease implanted in an American patient

The operation, using Boston Scientific’s newly approved fourth-generation system, was performed earlier this month by neurosurgeon Jason Schwalb, Ph.D. Med., From Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders in the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan.

“With neurodegenerative movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease, the ability to give the right dose of stimulation where needed can make a significant difference in controlling an individual patient’s symptoms,” Schwalb said in a press release.

“This new system of deep brain stimulation has the ability to adapt therapy to deal with symptom fluctuations and the progressive nature of the condition,” he added, “allowing us to precisely control stimulation and minimize unwanted side effects.”

Over the past 25 years, more than 160,000 DBS systems have been implanted in patients around the world to help treat movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, according to Boston Scientific. The new Vercise Genus DBS system, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in January 2021, is small and thin, its developers claim. Under certain conditions, patients with this device will be able to safely undergo MRI scans.

Drugs like levodopa are the first line treatment for motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease, which includes tremors, stiffness, stiffness, slow movement, and gait problems. However, these therapies may not always prove effective.

Some patients may not respond adequately to medications or experience problematic side effects. For these people, treatments such as DBS provide an alternative way to improve their quality of life.

The latest Vercise Genus DBS – an upgrade to earlier systems available for years in both the US and Europe – has been approved as an adjunct treatment for Parkinson’s levodopa-responsive patients for whom levodopa alone is not sufficient. It is approved for stimulation of both sides of the subthalamic nucleus and the inner globe pallidus, which are brain regions that play key roles in motor function.

When active, the pulse generator of the Vercise Genus DBS system stimulates the brain with a predetermined program of mild electrical impulses.

The new device is based on cochlear implant technology, which precisely stimulates the auditory nerves to replicate hearing. Earlier models, in contrast, relied on pacemaker technology.

Using Bluetooth wireless technology, individual DBS stimulation programs can be customized and adjusted as needed to address the changes in symptoms that occur during Parkinson’s progression by targeting different parts of the brain. In this way, doctors and patients can work together to better optimize therapy for each individual.

The new Vercise Genus DBS system is available in the United States and Europe. In the US, the use of the device will be monitored by full-body MRI scans.

Forest Ray holds a doctorate in systems biology from Columbia University, where he developed tools to align drug side effects with other diseases. He has since worked as a journalist and scientist, dealing with topics ranging from rare diseases to the intersection between environmental science and social justice. He currently lives in Long Beach, California.

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Ana holds a PhD in immunology from the University of Lisbon and has worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Molecule Medicine (iMM) in Lisbon, Portugal. She holds a bachelor’s degree in genetics from the University of Newcastle and a master’s degree in biomolecular archeology from the University of Manchester in England. After leaving the lab to pursue a career in scientific communication, she was the Director of Scientific Communication at iMM.