Tiny implant could relieve pain, depressionby Sea Stachura, Minnesota Public Radio
Rochester, Minn. — Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have helped develop a technology that could help better treat depression, Parkinson's Disease and chronic pain.
To date, neurosurgeons have implanted electrodes into the brains of some animals. It has not yet been used in human studies. This new advancement will make it possible for the treatment to be used on those with depression and chronic pain.
The electrode sends an electrical signal that helps regulate certain brain chemicals like seratonin and dopamine. Abnormal levels of those chemicals are related to conditions such as Parkinson's disease and depression.
Until now, doctors haven't been able to measure the effectiveness of the current. The Mayo Clinic's Kevin Bennet said researchers have developed a sensor that measures those chemical levels.
"By measuring that on a continuous basis, we could develop a feedback loop that would say, OK, we need a little more electrical impulse here to bring this person back to a normal level of dopamine. Or the dopamine is drifting a little higher, we can back off," Bennet said.
He says the technology makes it possible for doctors to treat chronic conditions like severe depression.
"In order to provide help to those patients we really do need this mechanism, because depression is the way people are interacting with the rest of the world," said Bennet. "It's not something, shall we say, as simple as a tremor."
He said that measurement tool in combination with the electrodes will make deep brain stimulation a more effective form of treatment.