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Researchers have found a new way to target the sources of some brain disorders.

In a study conducted by scientists at Mass General Brigham, deep brain stimulation (DBS) was able to identify lesions in the brain that cause four cognitive disorders: Parkinson’s disease, dystonia (a muscle disorder that causes repetitive or jerky movements), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and Tourette’s syndrome.

In the year The discovery, published Feb. 22 in Nature Neuroscience, may help doctors design new treatments for these diseases.

The study included 261 patients worldwide – 70 people with dystonia, 127 with Parkinson’s disease, 50 with OCD and 14 with Tourette’s syndrome.

The researchers implanted electrodes in each participant’s brain and used special software to determine which brain circuits were dysfunctional in each of the four disorders.

“Simply put, when brain circuits are dysfunctional, the circuit can act as brakes for specific brain functions it normally performs,” ​​Andreas Horn, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in a press release. Release.

“Applying DBS can release the brake and partially restore function.”

IA research led by scientists at Mass. General Brigham identified four sources of brain disorders. LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS – stock.adobe.com

Horne, one of 39 researchers from 16 institutions who co-authored the study, elaborated in an interview with Fox News Digital.

“Based on the current findings, we can better understand why deep stimulation of a small subcortical structure in the brain is helping patients with various disorders,” he said.

For each disorder, a specific brain network is identified as “dysfunctional”, which leads to the condition, the doctor said.

“Identifying these ‘disrupted networks’ will help us better understand the four diseases and better understand neuromodulation to help patients alleviate symptoms,” he said.

In three cases, the researchers found that applying DBS resulted in “significantly improved outcomes.”

At Massachusetts General Hospital, a female patient in her early 20s was diagnosed with severe, treatment-resistant OCD.

After receiving the electrode implant and targeted stimulation, the researchers measured a “significant improvement” in her symptoms one month after the treatment, according to the release.

In the year The discovery, published Feb. 22 in Nature Neuroscience, may help doctors design new treatments for these diseases. A.P

Dr. Shannon Dean, a pediatric neurologist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Maryland, who was not involved in the study, shared his reaction to the findings.

“This study is a great example of how medically focused and basic method-based research can help guide each other,” she told Fox News Digital.

“The authors used deep brain stimulation electrodes, which are an invasive surgical treatment for a variety of neurological disorders,” Dean continued.

“I was interested to see the researchers use their results to refine how they treat more patients — and see their patients’ symptoms improve as a result,” she said.

Given the small number of participants, Dean stressed the need for caution in interpreting the results.

“The authors’ findings for those diseases need to be replicated for us to make sure the conclusions are valid,” she said.

“But what they found is interesting and meaningful because it builds on what we already know about these diseases. This suggests where future studies should look.

“This study offers hope for people living with these diseases that are resistant to standard medical therapy,” she added.

Dr. Arif Dalvi, a neurologist at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Florida, commented on the study as an outside expert.

“Deep brain stimulation has been part of the standard of care for neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease and tremors for decades, but the technology continues to evolve,” he told Fox News Digital.

“This analysis identified ‘sweet spots’ in these circuits that significantly alleviated symptoms, demonstrating the effectiveness of DBS in modulating neural activity.

The findings highlight the importance of personalized treatments, Dalvi said.

“This emphasizes the need for neurologists to carefully evaluate each patient as a unique individual and develop a specific treatment plan, rather than general best practices or treatment guidelines,” he said.

Given the small number of participants, Dean stressed the need for caution in interpreting the results. A.P

The study was limited, say researchers

This study is considered the first step in what will be a long process, Horne said.

“The study is based on retrospective data – the main results must be confirmed in future trials that represent the gold standard for gathering evidence in science and medicine,” he told Fox News Digital.

The study’s sample size was also relatively small, Tourette said in particular.

“Even internationally, there haven’t been many patients undergoing deep brain stimulation surgery for this problem,” Horne said.

This study is the first step in defining what the researchers call the “human dysfunctoma”, which is a collection of dysfunctional connections in the human brain caused by certain neurological or mental disorders.

“We paint a picture of the dysfunctome first, but we need more information to complete the picture and map other signals to the circuits of the human brain,” Horne said.

While the study’s findings may not yet lead to drastic changes, Horne said, they could help experienced clinicians adjust their approach to neurology.

“An intervention can provide more clarity or small improvements to make it more successful,” Horne said. “However, the data should not be followed blindly, but should be confirmed in future studies.”

The researchers have already started planning clinical trials to confirm the results.

As Dalvi points out, developing more sophisticated mapping techniques and understanding the long-term effects of deep brain stimulation will be critical.

“Furthermore, the expansion of this approach to other brain regions and disorders may open up new therapeutic avenues, marking a new era in the treatment of neurological conditions,” he said.

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