In the United States, a woman suffering from severe depression is undergoing new treatment with an implant installed directly in the brain. After a year of testing, the results are published in the journal Nature Medicine. And they are promising …

Towards the end of antidepressants?

“Everything just got easier and easier”, explains Sarah in the columns of New Scientist. The young woman suffering from severe depression has seen her daily life transformed since living with electrodes directly integrated into the brain.

The name of this method: deep brain stimulation (DBS), or “deep brain stimulation”. The team of researchers from the University of California at San Francisco has recorded for 10 days the brain activities of the 35-year-old patient. The professionals compared the data from ten areas of the brain and compared it to Sarah’s mood.

Through this process, the US team defined a brain activity pattern, also called a “neuronal biomarker”.

300 activations per day!

The therapy offered by Dr Chang and his team is based on stimulation by one of the electrodes in “Sarah’s depression circuit region”.

When the sensor detects a biomarker, the electrode provides a “small dose of electricity” over a period of 6 seconds.

On average, the electrode is activated 300 times a day. Once the double operation necessary to incorporate the implants has been carried out, the young woman’s mood has improved.

“These results give hope that a personalized treatment based on biomarkers for psychiatric disorders is possible”, reports Katherine Scangos, lead author of the study and researcher at the University of California, San Francisco.

A tailor-made therapy with immediate effects

This system makes it possible to create “a immediate therapy on demand, which is unique to both the patient’s brain and the neural circuit that causes the disease “, rejoice the researchers.

This success is possible thanks to the joint discovery of the brain activity at the origin of the symptom of the depression as well as “the team’s ability to personalize a new DBS (deep brain stimulation) device to respond to it only when it recognizes this pattern “.

After this first test, Dr Katherine Scangos wishes to repeat the experience on 11 new patients. “The results are awesome most we should not assume that it will work for everybody“, nuance Keyoumars Ashkan of King’s College Hospital in London. “It’s possible that everyone’s brain circuits involved in mood are slightly different.”

Still in the testing phase, this method costly is intended for people with severe depression. This approach has already been tested on patients with epilepsy.

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