Cleveland Clinic has been awarded nearly $5 million by the National Institutes of Health to develop a first-in-humans clinical trial to assess deep brain stimulation (DBS) as a therapy for stroke recovery patients.
Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disabilities in the United States. One-third of stroke patients maintain long-term motor deficits severe enough to be disabling, despite rehabilitative efforts.
“We currently have few effective therapeutic interventions other than physical therapy for patients who are living with chronic motor disabilities following a stroke,” said Andre Machado, M.D., Ph.D., chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Neurological Institute. “The grant will help us develop a deep brain stimulation system to improve recovery of a patient’s motor function and vocational re-entry. Our previous research has showed us the potential to form synapsis between neurons in the brain, implying a possible neuro-restorative potential. Patients and families would benefit greatly from a new therapy.”
Dr. Machado’s previous research has shown that DBS can promote the brain’s plasticity and ability to form new neural connections during recovery from stroke. This research expands on that work and for the first time translates it to humans.
“We know that deep cerebellar stimulation promotes motor recovery in a preclinical model of cortical stroke,” said Kenneth Baker, Ph.D., of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Neurosciences. “Our goal with this first-ever clinical trial is to advance this novel therapy to promote recovery of motor function for these patients. This has the potential to be a significant advancement for the field.”
This NIH grant is part of the Brain Initiative: Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN), and this is among one of many projects exploring human brain activity. Over 100 new awards, totaling more than $70 million, will go to over 170 investigators working at 60 institutions. These awards expand NIH’s efforts to develop new tools and technologies to understand neural circuit function and capture a dynamic view of the brain in action.
Projects include proposals to develop computer programs that may help researchers detect and diagnose autism and Alzheimer’s disease from brain scans, build a cap that uses ultrasound waves to precisely stimulate brain cells, create a “neural dust” system made of tiny electric sensors for wirelessly recording brain activity, improve current rehabilitation technologies for helping the lives of stroke patients, and study how the brain reads and speaks.
The World Health Organization estimated that devastating brain disorders affect more than one billion people worldwide. The research towards developing DBS for stroke patients will contribute towards the large scale effort to equip researchers with insights necessary for treating worldwide brain disorders. The BRAIN Initiative launched in 2014 by President Barack Obama.