Toronto (July 20, 2008) - Canadian researchers have verified that deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a safe, new approach that has shown tremendous results for patients with treatment-resistant depression.

Published online today, in Biological Psychiatry, the study, lead by Dr. Andres Lozano, Neurosurgeon at Krembil Neurosciences Centre - Toronto Western Hospital and Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience, with collaboration from Dr. Helen Mayberg, MD at Emory University, involved using DBS in 20 patients, targeting an area of the brain that is shown to be overactive in depression.

"Our research confirmed that 60 per cent of patients have shown a clinically significant response to the surgery and the benefits were sustained for at least one year," said Dr. Lozano. "The underpinnings of depression are poorly understood and this therapy, although not perfect, offers numerous advantages."

The possibilities of DBS to treat depression was first published is 2005, by Dr. Mayberg, Dr. Lozano and a research team from Toronto Western and Emory University, when six patients were treated. Today's study reports the outcomes for an additional 14 patients for a total of 20 patients followed for one year.

"Thanks to these doctors I now have my life back," said Sean Miller, a patient who had DBS to treat his depression. "The pain, fear, anxiety and depression are pretty much completely gone and I am now a very happy, healthy, working, active, fulfilled and grateful individual."

This DBS therapy is geared to a very specific depression. "The treatment is designed for patients with Major Depressant Disorder and who have been unresponsive to numerous other treatments," said Dr. Sidney Kennedy, lead psychiatrist for the study and Psychiatrist-in-Chief at University Health Network. "After DBS, patients have been able to use psychotherapy techniques and reduce medication as they steadily re-build their lives."

The study also revealed PET data showing how DBS changes activity in the brain circuitry of depression. The results suggest that deep brain stimulation leads to changes in the metabolic activity of the "depression circuit" resulting in the clinical benefits observed.

About Toronto Western Hospital

Toronto Western Hospital has been serving the health care needs of its culturally diverse local community for more than 100 years. Home to the Krembil Neuroscience Centre, one of the largest combined clinical and research neurological facilities in North America, the Toronto Western Hospital is a leader in medical research and also offers expertise in community and population health and musculoskeletal health and arthritis. The Toronto Western Hospital, along with Princess Margaret Hospital and Toronto General Hospital, is a member of the University Health Network and is affiliated with the University of Toronto.

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Email: UHN.News@uhn.ca

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