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Home Technologies Method of deep brain stimulation for use in treating Parkinson’s Disease

Method of deep brain stimulation for use in treating Parkinson’s Disease

Value Proposition

Parkinson’s disease is a common neurodegenerative disorder that progressively deteriorates the motor system. With over seven million people afflicted globally and a rising incidence rate, improved treatment options for Parkinsonian symptoms will be required until an effective cure is available. Currently administration of levodopa is the first line treatment for Parkinson’s disease, however after long-term use the drug is susceptible to “off” states where it essentially becomes ineffective. In order to control motor deficits in these patients, deep brain stimulation (DBS) may be a surgical option. DBS involves implanting an electrode into a portion of the brain to electrically stimulate neurons involved in movement initiation. However, the mechanism is poorly understood and therefore controversial. Accordingly, specific targeting of discrete neuronal populations may improve implementation of the technique by increasing its effectiveness and reducing unwanted side-affects.


Duke inventors have reported a method for treating a motor neuron disorder, such as Parkinson's Disease. Using a rodent model of Parkinson’s disease, inventors have discovered a specific neuronal network that is capable of restoring motor function upon electrical stimulation. The inventors have revealed a thalamo-subthalamic pathway regulating movement initiation, and demonstrated a circuit mechanism that could potentially explain the clinical efficacy of DBS for relief of PD motor symptoms. Identification of the novel pathway as a critical regulator of movement initiation may have profound impacts on the implementation of DBS.

Other Applications

In addition to treating Parkinson’s disease, the novel neuronal pathway identified by inventors may also influence how DBS is implemented for other types of movement disorders as well.


  • Shows that stimulation can restore many different types of spontaneous behaviors and offers the first demonstration that natural behaviors can be restored using pathway-specific stimulation

  • Improvement over current DBS implementation

  • Informs other targeted treatment approaches such as gene therapy

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