Study: Focused ultrasound reduced essential tremor symptoms for 3 years

In a recent study, Casey Halpern and  colleagues used ultrasound to relieve symptoms of essential tremor, for up to three years. The treatment is used when medication does not work.

76 people with an average age of 71 who had essential tremor for an average of 17 years were studied. 56  received focused ultrasound thalamotomy, and 20 had a sham therapy. After three months, those who received the sham were offered the treatment. 23 people left the study. The researchers believe that those who left did not respond as well as others to the treatment.

Hand tremors, level of disability and quality of life were measured at the start, and after six months, one year, two years and three years. After three years, on average, participants improved in hand tremors by 50 percent, disability by 56 percent, and quality of life by 42 percent.

No new side effects occurred. Existing side effects, which continued during the study, included numbness and tingling, imbalance and unsteadiness.  The researchers claimed that none worsened, and two were resolved, during the treatment.

Current recommended treatment for people with severe essential tremor responding insufficiently to medication is deep brain stimulation. Ultrasound is much less invasive, performed in one session. There is no need for follow-up visits, and there is immediate benefit.  Ultrasound does, however, produce an irreversible brain legion.

Cala Health has also developed a non-invasive therapy for essential tremor, using a neuromodulation wearable on the wrist. The device  stimulates nerves responsible for the tremor, interrupting circuits, to allow for better movement control.


Join ApplySci at the 13th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Silicon Valley conference on February 11-12, 2020 at Quadrus Sand Hill Road.  Speakers include:  Zhenan Bao, Stanford – Vinod Khosla, Khosla Ventures – Mark Chevillet, Facebook – Shahin Farshchi, Lux Capital – Carla Pugh, Stanford – Nathan Intrator, Tel Aviv University | Neurosteer – Wei Gao, Caltech – Sergiu Pasca, Stanford – Rudy Tanzi, Harvard – Sheng Xu, UC San Diego – Dror Ben-Zeev, University of Washington – Mikael Eliasson, Roche

Remote, robotic surgery for aneurysm, stroke

Vitor Mendes Pereira at Toronto Western Hospital and Krembil Brain Institute .used a Siemens Healthineers-developed robot arm to help remove an aneurysm.  A catheter was guided to the patient’s brain from an incision made near the groin in the interventional procedure.

The CorPath GRX robotics platform is controlled by joysticks and a touchscreen. A bedside  technician interacts with the robot to exchange devices including guidewires, microcatheters, and coils.

The goal is the use of robots for remote stroke patient treatment.


Join ApplySci at the 12th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech conference on February 11-12, 2020 at Quadrus Sand Hill Road.  Speakers include:  Zhenan Bao, Stanford – Vinod Khosla, Khosla Ventures – Mark Chevillet, Facebook – Shahin Farshchi, Lux Capital – Carla Pugh, Stanford – Nathan Intrator, Tel Aviv University | Neurosteer – Wei Gao, Caltech – Sergiu Pasca, Stanford – Rudy Tanzi, Harvard – Sheng Xu, UC San Diego – Dror Ben-Zeev, University of Washington – Mikael Eliasson, Roche

High resolution brain map traces wiring within, between, thalamus and cortex

Allen Institute scientists have created a high-resolution brain map, which traces thousands of connections between brain areas in mice, which they believe  can help us understand how brain circuitry changes in diseases and disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.

This is the most detailed map of connections in a mammalian brain to date, tracing neural wiring within and between the thalamus and cortex, responsible for higher level functions like memory, decision making, and understanding the world around us.

The study describes a high-resolution expansion of the Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas

Alterations in brain connections have been seen in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and several other brain diseases and disorders.

Using a computational approach, the researchers found that different sections of the cortex and thalamus can be mapped into a hierarchy, much like a company’s org chart. Parts of the cortex that are specialized for information gathered via our senses, like vision and smell, are on the bottom rungs, and regions that handle more complicated input — like calling up a memory evoked by a familiar scent — are at the top. Connections flow both up and down the brain’s org chart, but the connections moving up are different than those moving down. They also found that not all connections respect these hierarchical laws. There are hints that the human cortex uses the same organizational system.

Allen Institute president Christof Koch said that “the next step will be to look directly at how neurons pass information through their electrical activity to confirm that this pattern matters.”


Join ApplySci at the 12th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Boston conference on November 14, 2019 at Harvard Medical School featuring talks by Brad Ringeisen, DARPA – Joe Wang, UCSD – Carlos Pena, FDA  – George Church, Harvard – Diane Chan, MIT – Giovanni Traverso, Harvard | Brigham & Womens – Anupam Goel, UnitedHealthcare  – Nathan Intrator, Tel Aviv University | Neurosteer – Arto Nurmikko, Brown – Constance Lehman, Harvard | MGH – Mikael Eliasson, Roche – Nicola Neretti, Brown – R. Jacob  Vogelstein, Camden Partners – Yael Mandelblat-Cerf, Biogen

MRI-detected microbleeds may help determine disability after brain injury

NINDS researcher Lawrence Latour has used an advanced imaging method to detect vascular microbleeds after head injury.   The lesions, which are too small to be detected by CT, may predict worse outcomes.

439 head injury patients who were treated in the emergency department were studied. MRI scans within 48 hours of injury, and again during four subsequent visits, showed that 31% of participants had evidence of microbleeds. (58% with severe head injury showed microbleeds and 27% of mild cases.)

Patients with microbleeds were more likely to have a greater level of disability, based on a commonly used outcome scale, compared to patients with out.


Join ApplySci at the 12th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Boston conference on November 14, 2019 at Harvard Medical School featuring talks by Brad Ringeisen, DARPA – Joe Wang, UCSD – Carlos Pena, FDA  – George Church, Harvard – Diane Chan, MIT – Giovanni Traverso, Harvard | Brigham & Womens – Anupam Goel, UnitedHealthcare  – Nathan Intrator, Tel Aviv University | Neurosteer – Arto Nurmikko, Brown – Constance Lehman, Harvard | MGH – Mikael Eliasson, Roche – Nicola Neretti, Brown

Join ApplySci at the 13th Wearable Tech + Neurotech + Digital Health Silicon Valley conference on February 11-12, 2020 on Sand Hill Road featuring talks by Zhenan Bao, Stanford – Rudy Tanzi, Harvard – Shahin Farshchi – Lux Capital – Sheng Xu, UCSD – Carla Pugh, Stanford – Nathan Intrator, Tel Aviv University | Neurosteer – Wei Gao, Caltech – Mikael Eliasson, Roche

DBS study shows long-term antidepressant effect in treatment-resistant depression

Helen Mayberg at Mount Sinai has published a study showing that deep brain stimulation of the subcallosal cingulate provides a lasting antidepressant effect in treatment-resistant depression.

According to Mayberg: “Over eight years of observation, most of our study participants experienced an antidepressant response to the deep brain stimulation of Area 25 that was robust and sustained. Given that patients with treatment-resistant depression are highly susceptible to recurrent depressive episodes, the ability of DBS to support long-term maintenance of an antidepressant response and prevention of relapse is a treatment advance that can mean the difference between getting on with your life or always looking over your shoulder for your next debilitating depressive episode.”

The study documents 4-8 years of outcomes data for 28 patients. Response and remission rates were maintained at or above 50 percent and 30 percent, respectively, through years 2-8 of the follow-up period. Three-quarters of all participants met the treatment response criterion for more than half of their participation in the study, with 21 percent of all participants demonstrating continuous response to treatment from the first year forward. Of 28 participants, 14 completed at least eight years of follow-up, 11 others completed at least four years, and three dropped out prior to eight years of participation.

The researchers conclude that data presented through this study support the long-term safety and sustained efficacy of SCC DBS for treatment-resistant depression.


Join ApplySci at the 12th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Boston conference on November 14, 2019 at Harvard Medical School featuring talks by Brad Ringeisen, DARPA – Joe Wang, UCSD – Carlos Pena, FDA  – George Church, Harvard – Diane Chan, MIT – Giovanni Traverso, Harvard | Brigham & Womens – Anupam Goel, UnitedHealthcare  – Nathan Intrator, Tel Aviv University | Neurosteer – Arto Nurmikko, Brown – Constance Lehman, Harvard | MGH – Mikael Eliasson, Roche – Nicola Neretti, Brown

Join ApplySci at the 13th Wearable Tech + Neurotech + Digital Health Silicon Valley conference on February 11-12, 2020 on Sand Hill Road featuring talks by Zhenan Bao, Stanford – Rudy Tanzi, Harvard – Shahin Farshchi – Lux Capital – Sheng Xu, UCSD – Carla Pugh, Stanford – Nathan Intrator, Tel Aviv University | Neurosteer – Wei Gao, Caltech

Implanted electrodes + algorithm allow thought-driven 4 limb exoskeleton control

Alim Louis Benabid and Clinatec/University of Grenoble colleagues have developed a brain computer interface controlled exoskeleton that enabled a tetraplegic man to walk and move his arms.  Two 64 electrode brain implants drove the system.

Benabid explained the benefits, stating that “previous brain-computer studies have used more invasive recording devices implanted beneath the outermost membrane of the brain, where they eventually stop working. They have also been connected to wires, limited to creating movement in just one limb, or have focused on restoring movement to patients’ own muscles.”

The exoskeleton can only be used in the lab at this point, as it still must be connected to a ceiling-harness, since it is unable to make small adjustments necessary to prevent falls.


Join ApplySci at the 12th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Boston conference on November 14, 2019 at Harvard Medical School featuring talks by Brad Ringeisen, DARPA – Joe Wang, UCSD – Carlos Pena, FDA  – George Church, Harvard – Diane Chan, MIT – Giovanni Traverso, Harvard | Brigham & Womens – Anupam Goel, UnitedHealthcare  – Nathan Intrator, Tel Aviv University | Neurosteer – Arto Nurmikko, Brown – Constance Lehman, Harvard | MGH – Mikael Eliasson, Roche – Nicola Neretti, Brown

Join ApplySci at the 13th Wearable Tech + Neurotech + Digital Health Silicon Valley conference on February 11-12, 2020 on Sand Hill Road featuring talks by Zhenan Bao, Stanford – Rudy Tanzi, Harvard – Shahin Farshchi – Lux Capital – Sheng Xu, UCSD – Carla Pugh, Stanford – Nathan Intrator, Tel Aviv University | Neurosteer – Wei Gao, Caltech

CTRL-Labs acquired by Facebook for 500M – 1B

Congratulations to CTRL-Labs and Lux Capital on Facebook’s acquisition of the four year old Neurotech startup. The company, whose technology assists in decoding brain activity and intention, will join Facebook’s AR/VR team.

CTRL-Labs participated in a recent ApplySci panel of startups at Stanford led by Lux Capital’s Shahin Farshchi. Facebook presented its Brain Computer Interface work at the ApplySci conference at the MIT Media Lab in 2017.

ApplySci’s next conference, at Harvard Medical School, will take place on November 14, 2019. It will again include a panel of startups — perhaps the next unicorns — and a series of talks by leading brain and body health scientists.

I hope that you’ll join us.


Join ApplySci at the 12th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Boston conference on November 14, 2019 at Harvard Medical School featuring talks by Brad Ringeisen, DARPA – Joe Wang, UCSD – Carlos Pena, FDA  – George Church, Harvard – Diane Chan, MIT – Giovanni Traverso, Harvard | Brigham & Womens – Anupam Goel, UnitedHealthcare  – Nathan Intrator, Tel Aviv University | Neurosteer – Arto Nurmikko, Brown – Constance Lehman, Harvard | MGH – Mikael Eliasson, Roche – Nicola Neretti – Brown

Phone-based support for psychosis

University of Washington’s Dror Ben Zeev has published a paper detailing a wide array of phone-based technology meant to support the recovery of psychosis throughout life — from early detection to symptom management to vocational rehabilitation,

The study includes self reported mental health assessments, self-management interventions, medication reminders, messages from case managers, tele-therapy, and skill development and job training software.

The private nature and constant availability of these resources, with out the need for travel, can increase the level of support.

Ben Zeev leads the U of W mHealth for Mental Health Program, focused on providing smart technology based services to those suffering from mental illness.  His work includes projects in Ghana and the West Bank, where access to care is limited, and the stigma surrounding mental illness is high, making the phone an ideal solution.


REGISTRATION RATES INCREASE SEPTEMBER 20 | Join ApplySci at the 12th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Boston conference on November 14, 2019 at Harvard Medical School featuring talks by Brad Ringeisen, DARPA – Joe Wang, UCSD – Carlos Pena, FDA  – George Church, Harvard – Diane Chan, MIT – Giovanni Traverso, Harvard | Brigham & Womens – Anupam Goel, UnitedHealthcare  – Nathan Intrator, Tel Aviv University | Neurosteer – Arto Nurmikko, Brown – Constance Lehman, Harvard | MGH – Mikael Eliasson, Roche – Nicola Neretti – Brown

Sensor tracks cerebral aneurysm hemodynamics

Georgia Tech’s Woon-Hong Yeo has developed a 3D-printed, stretchable, battery-free, wireless sensor, implanted in brain blood vessels to measure incoming blood flow, to evaluate aneurysm healing.  The tiny device wraps around stents or diverters implanted to control blood flow in affected vessels. It is believed to be the first demonstration of aerosol jet 3D printing to produce an implantable, stretchable sensing system for wireless monitoring.

Inserted using a catheter, the sensor uses inductive coupling of signals to allow wireless detection of biomimetic cerebral aneurysm hemodynamics.

Current cerebral aneurysms monitoring requires repeated angiogram imaging with potentially harmful contrast materials. Cost and potential negative effects limit the use of these techniques.  A sensor placed in a blood vessel could allow more frequent evaluations without the use of imaging dyes.


REGISTRATION RATES INCREASE SEPTEMBER 20 | Join ApplySci at the 12th Wearable Tech + Digital Health + Neurotech Boston conference on November 14, 2019 at Harvard Medical School featuring talks by Brad Ringeisen, DARPA – Joe Wang, UCSD – Carlos Pena, FDA  – George Church, Harvard – Diane Chan, MIT – Giovanni Traverso, Harvard | Brigham & Womens – Anupam Goel, UnitedHealthcare  – Nathan Intrator, Tel Aviv University | Neurosteer – Arto Nurmikko, Brown – Constance Lehman, Harvard | MGH – Mikael Eliasson, Roche