UT Overall health San Antonio, University Well being complete region’s initial medical procedures for Alzheimer’s sickness

Photo of 2 senior men walking on path

Deep brain stimulation targets memory-forming circuits.

The University of Texas Overall health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) and medical husband or wife College Health are amid 27 internet sites throughout the world (18 in the U.S., just one in Canada and 8 in Germany) evaluating the success of a approach named deep mind stimulation (DBS) in managing individuals with moderate Alzheimer’s disease. DBS is an set up, nonpharmaceutical cure that scientists hope could sluggish or even halt the progress of this devastating disease.

A San Antonio lady in her 70s underwent South Texas’ to start with DBS medical procedures for Alzheimer’s — one particular of the very first 300 surgical procedures of its sort in the globe — at College Medical center on Nov. 5. Alexander Papanastassiou, MD, affiliate professor of neurosurgery at UT Wellbeing San Antonio who sees University Wellness people, implanted DBS electrodes all through the procedure. The surgical treatment is minimally invasive to enrich swift recovery with the the very least pain, blood reduction and hospital time.

Gabriel de Erausquin, MD, PhD, professor of neurology at UT Health and fitness San Antonio and researcher with the health science center’s Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Disorders, confirmed the electrode locale by screening the patient’s heart rate and blood strain responses to stimulation when she was awake in the course of the technique. The take a look at stimulation also evoked a memory as it sometimes does. The affected person went household the upcoming day and returned Nov. 18 for the planned next phase of surgical procedure to implant the generator in the upper body wall. She went household the exact working day, recovered well, and returned Dec. 3 for randomization and preliminary programming.

A condition-of-the-art robotic technique, the Renishaw neuromate® ordered by University Wellbeing in 2017, aided the surgical procedure. The robot has ensured exact placement of brain implants to diagnose and deal with epilepsy and motion conditions. Dr. Papanastassiou has done scores of stereotactic robotic surgeries at College Wellness for individuals problems. The neuromate® robot was invented by Peter Fox, MD, professor of radiology, neurology, psychiatry and physiology in the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Prolonged Faculty of Drugs, UT Health San Antonio. He is director of the well being science center’s Research Imaging Institute and has analyzed stereotactic know-how to guarantee specific concentrating on of transcranial magnetic stimulation for melancholy.

Stopping the decrease

Analyzing DBS in Alzheimer’s condition is a new frontier. Dr. de Erausquin is the principal investigator and collaborating neurologist for the San Antonio website of the scientific demo. He has experience in diagnosing and treating Alzheimer’s disorder and motion problems these as Parkinson’s illness, together with practical experience attained from extra than 200 DBS instances for motion conditions.

“The common study course of health issues for people today with early Alzheimer’s condition is a progressive reduction of function that is pretty constant and does not sluggish down,” Dr. de Erausquin said. “The objective of this current demo is to take a look at irrespective of whether the product can support people with early Alzheimer’s ailment to sustain their memory and independence.”

The review does not intention to reverse disease progression. No existing therapy does that. At this level, remaining equipped to arrest the decline in folks who have a diagnosed variety of Alzheimer’s and have signs and symptoms would be a “major accomplishment,” Dr. de Erausquin reported.

Graphic showing what deep brain stimulation does in the brain


Throughout stereotactic surgery, the surgical group secures a rigid body to the cranium. This establishes a 3D space for precise, computerized concentrating on of treatment delivery. The surgeon controls a robotic to implant DBS electrodes in precise spots in the mind. Entry is obtained by two dime-sized holes. Depending on the patient’s hairline, the only exterior mark might be a minor bump on the pores and skin.

“The electrodes are placed around a mind composition known as the fornix, which is section of a circuit involved in the formation of memories,” Dr. Papanastassiou mentioned. “The electrodes run underneath the pores and skin down to a generator in the upper body wall that is exterior the ribcage and beneath the skin.”

Great-tuning the influence

Exterior instruments connect with the generator. “Experienced programmers this kind of as Dr. de Erausquin can transform the amount of electrical latest, the frequency, the pulse width and which of the electrodes are utilized to do the stimulation,” Dr. Papanastassiou mentioned. “Different parameters are established based on how the individual is assigned in the review protocol.”

For the reason that this is a medical demo, some members will be randomized to get stimulation before, with their generator being activated to provide DBS before long soon after the implant. For other members, the activation will be delayed by 12 months.

Programming periods will appear and feel the similar to all individuals, but some will be sham sessions that look to initiate activation but do not. It is critical that individuals and doctors not be informed when a individual is getting stimulation. This is to attain a correct, impartial measure of the procedure’s effectiveness in managing Alzheimer’s, Dr. de Erausquin explained.

All individuals in the review will acquire the normal forms of procedure for early Alzheimer’s, no make any difference when their DBS is activated, he mentioned.

Jane’s tale

The initial San Antonio patient, named Jane, questioned that her last title not be made use of. Turning 72 this spring, Jane was a 30-yr instructor and librarian in a San Antonio faculty district just before retiring in 2016. With levels in English, nursing and library sciences, she also taught record but most savored educating wellbeing sciences to youthful persons and getting them on rotations to a community clinic.

Photo of library booksRight after leaving the classroom and library, lifetime slowed down and she found small matters about her memory.

“When I retired, I was by myself,” Jane said. “My spouse was operating, I didn’t know any individual, my buddies ended up continue to doing the job, and I was socially isolated for a although. I really don’t know if that was what started off it or not.”

Jane and her husband went to the Glenn Biggs Institute, exactly where she was identified. Dr. de Erausquin is one particular of her dealing with physicians and proposed she may possibly join the DBS clinical trial.

Currently the pair is energetic in a senior citizens’ group and Jane retains her desire in educating many others. She soon will present a lecture titled “Jackie Robinson: Civil Rights Leader” to the team, in addition to showing a Robinson documentary and the movie “42.”

“With Alzheimer’s disorder, persons routinely imagine a person is silly and just cannot do something. That’s not the way it is,” Jane said. “I do not want to be saddled with that stress.”

The Jackie Robinson lecture is an instance, she explained, of “things I’m actually intrigued in, things I’m gung ho about, and I think it’s really neat.”

Saving day by day dwelling, for Jane and other folks

Photo of 3 senior ladies laughingUT Wellness San Antonio and College Wellness are permitted to do DBS implants in 12 individuals with early Alzheimer’s sickness.

“We are only enrolling people today with early disorder,” Dr. de Erausquin explained. “DBS is most most likely to be beneficial early in the study course of the sickness. We seek people who already have signs and in whom it is confirmed, through assessment of proteins in the mind and spinal fluid, that Alzheimer’s disorder is the underlying result in for people symptoms.

“Being in a position to cease symptoms from progressing might indicate that a client could carry on to travel to the retail store, to church or to another family member’s residence. That capacity is quickly shed if indications advance,” Dr. de Erausquin said.

“I would give them a title and amount of an individual to get hold of,” Jane mentioned, when asked what she would notify others who are interested to be part of the scientific trial. She stated she had no soreness just after the DBS implantation.

For details on the clinical trial, together with potential eligibility, make contact with Amy Saklad at (210) 567-8229, [email protected] or visit www.MildAlzheimersStudy.com to see if you or your beloved a person may possibly qualify for the analyze.


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