May 06, 2013 at 08:15 AM EDT
Researchers Reveal New More Precise Method of Performing Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Reports new study in Brain Stimulation

SOURCE: Elsevier

DESCRIPTION:

Philadelphia, PA, May 6, 2013 /3BL Media/ - Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is the most effective acute treatment for severe major depression. However, even with newer forms of ECT, there remains a significant risk of adverse cognitive effects, particularly memory problems.

Current theories hold that the regions that need to be stimulated to treat the depression (the cortex) are different and separate from the regions that result in memory problems (the hippocampus and temporal lobes). Theoretically, a more precise form of ECT could have all of the efficacy and few or none of the adverse cognitive side effects.

A new study published in Brain Stimulation now reports the initial clinical results of a novel form of precise ECT called FEAST (Focal Electrically Applied Seizure Therapy). This clinical trial in 17 depressed adults builds on earlier design work and animal testing done at Columbia University in NY. This new form of ECT uses pulsed direct current stimulation, with the bulk of the electrical charge being delivered directly under one electrode placed on the right orbital cortex, about 1 inch above the right eye. Traditional ECT uses alternating current, which flows in both directions and is thus harder to direct and target.

‘’We found, in this feasibility study, that FEAST produced clinically meaningful antidepressant improvements,” said Dr. Ziad Nahas, first author of the research conducted jointly at the Medical University of South Carolina and Columbia University (NY). Dr. Nahas is now Department Chair at the America University in Beirut, Lebanon. ”Importantly, the time it took for patients to be fully reoriented after the treatment was just 5 minutes from when they first opened their eyes. This orientation time traditionally corresponds to the cognitive side effects. This is much quicker than any other form of ECT, where the orientation time is much greater, sometimes up to or exceeding an hour.”

Overall, the group had their depression symptoms almost reduced by half, after an average of 10 sessions over 4 weeks. Eight individual patients had at least a 50% reduction in their symptoms, and 5 remitted, meaning they were largely symptom free.

This was the first human use of FEAST, and the group is continuing to refine the method and test how it works using advanced brain imaging and electroencephalography (EEG).

Dr. Harold Sackeim, Professor of Psychiatry and Radiology at Columbia University and the early developer of the FEAST technique, commented, “These initial encouraging results suggest that one can perfect and refine ECT with a more focal delivery system like FEAST. These are exciting confirmatory data in depressed patients building on what we found in earlier work.”

“Further work is needed to see if we can improve the titration schedule, refine the dose, and make this into another, better, method of performing ECT,” said Nahas.

The article is “A Feasibility Study of a New Method for Electrically Producing Seizures in Man: Focal Electrically Administered Seizure Therapy [FEAST]” by Ziad Nahas, Baron Short, Carol Burns, Melanie Archer, Matthew Schmidt, Joan Prudic, Mitchell S. Nobler, D.P. Devanand, Linda Fitzsimons, Sarah H. Lisanby, Nancy Payne, Tarique Perera, Mark S. George, and Harold A. Sackeim (DOI: 10.1016/j.brs.2013.03.004). The article appears in Brain Stimulation, Volume 6, Issue 3 (May-June, 2013), published by Elsevier.

The research was funded through an NIH grant for the initial development and human clinical work. Custom modified spECTrum 5000Q devices were donated by MECTA Corporation. The FEAST patent with Dr. Harold A Sackeim as the inventor, is pending.

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Notes for Editors
Full text of the article is available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact newsroom@elsevier.com or call +31 20485 3564; to schedule an interview with the authors, please contact Dr. Baron Short at shorteb@musc.edu or call +1 843 876 5142 or Dr. Nahas at +961 71 631 236 or zn17@aub.edu.lb.

The authors’ affiliations, and disclosures of financial and conflicts of interests are available in the article.

About Brain Stimulation
Brain Stimulation (www.brainstimjrnl.com) aims to be the premier journal for publication of original research in the field of neuromodulation. Its scope extends across the entire field of brain stimulation, including noninvasive and invasive techniques and technologies that alter brain function through the use of electrical, magnetic, radiowave, or focally targeted pharmacologic stimulation.

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. The company works in partnership with the global science and health communities to publish more than 2,000 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and close to 20,000 book titles, including major reference works from Mosby and Saunders. Elsevier’s online solutions include ScienceDirect, Scopus, Reaxys, ClinicalKey and Mosby’s Suite, which enhance the productivity of science and health professionals, and the SciVal suite and MEDai’s Pinpoint Review, which help research and health care institutions deliver better outcomes more cost-effectively.

A global business headquartered in Amsterdam, Elsevier employs 7,000 people worldwide. The company is part of Reed Elsevier Group plc, a world leading provider of professional information solutions. The group employs more than 30,000 people, including more than 15,000 in North America. Reed Elsevier Group plc is owned equally by two parent companies, Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. Their shares are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RUK and ENL.

Media contact
Donna Santaromita
Elsevier
+1 212 633 3962
d.santaromita@elsevier.com

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KEYWORDS: Elsevier, Brain Stimulation, Electroconvulsive Therapy, ECT, severe major depression, Focal Electrically Applied Seizure Therapy, clinical trial, FEAST, depression, seizure

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