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> Cyberonics' Neuroelectronics Device to Relieve Depression
post Jun 19, 2004, 04:06 PM
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Cyberonics' Neuroelectronics Device to Relieve Depression

Neuroelectronics device manufacturer Cyberonics received preliminary
approval for a surgical implant to treat severe depression. It is the
first time an implanted device has been recommended for the treatment
of a psychiatric disorder.

Using a technique known as vagus nerve stimulation, the implanted
device uses electrodes implanted in the neck to activate brain regions
that are believed to regulate mood. The involves connecting a wire to
the left vagus nerve in the side of the neck; a battery is implanted
high in the left chest or under the armpit, and the amount of current
can be regulated externally. Typically, the implant sends a 30-second
pulse of current followed by a five-minute pause, 24 hours a day.

The Neurological Devices Panel of FDA's Medical Devices Advisory
Committee voted 5 to 2 to recommend approval with conditions of
Cyberonics' VNS TherapyT System "as an adjunctive long-term treatment
of chronic or recurrent depression for patients over the age of 18 who
are experiencing a major depressive episode that has not had an
adequate response to four or more adequate antidepressant treatments.
The stock, CYBX, surged 70% on the news.

While it is clear from the committee's recommendation that several
emoticeuticals to treat depression must first be tried, the
recommendation highlights an important trend in the emerging
neurotechnology industry: neuroceutical makers and neuroelectronics
manufacturers will increasingly compete for market share as they strive
towards developing for better tools to treat mental illnesses. Indeed,
Cyberonics already has pilot studies underway to evaluate VNS Therapy
as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders, Alzheimer's disease and
chronic headache/migraine.
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