Procedure Shows Promise for Alzheimer's Patients

Research shows Deep Brain Stimulation to be safe, effective

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

In a world first, Dr. Andres M. Lozano and his team at Toronto Western Hospital have shown using Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) on patients with early signs of Alzheimer's disease is safe and may help improve memory. The phase one safety trial of six Ontario patients took place from 2005 to 2008. All patients left hospital within 2 to 3 days of surgery, and continue to participate in regular follow-up cognitive assessments.

Throughout these assessments, Dr. Lozano says half the patients continue to perform better than predicted – that is – their memory capacity has improved, or deteriorated less than expected.

"While the study was not looking for efficacy, the results suggest that of the six patients, three may have done better than if the Alzheimer's disease was allowed to run its course," commented Lozano. "We showed that not only is this a safe procedure, but that the evidence is there to warrant a bigger trial. Any amount of time that extends quality of life and quality years to someone with Alzheimer's may be a benefit."

Dr. Lozano first discovered the potential for DBS to treat Alzheimer's disease while treating a patient for obesity using DBS back in 2003. While signaling areas of the brain, Dr. Lozano and his team triggered memories in the patient. In follow-up testing the patient's memory improved and Dr. Lozano set in motion the first ever DBS trial of patients with early signs of Alzheimer's disease.

"We've demonstrated this is safe, and that the evidence warrants more study. We're now planning a phase two, multi-centred trial - we're just waiting on the funding," says Dr. Lozano.

Results of Dr. Lozano's trial are published in today's issue of Annals of Neurology. Anyone interested in more information about participating in the next phase please visit: There is a form that interested parties can print and fax for more information.

About Toronto Western Hospital Each year through it's Krembil Neuroscience Program, the Toronto Western Hospital treats more than 30,000 patients and 2,500 neurosurgical operations are performed. The Krembil Neuroscience Centre is one of the largest combined clinical and research neurological facilities in North America. The Toronto Western Hospital is a member of the University Health Network, which also includes the Toronto General Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital. All three are research hospitals affiliated with the University of Toronto.

About University Health Network University Health Network consists of Toronto General, Toronto Western and Princess Margaret Hospitals. The scope of research and complexity of cases at University Health Network has made it a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care. It has the largest hospital-based research program in Canada, with major research in transplantation, cardiology, neurosciences, oncology, surgical innovation, infectious diseases, and genomic medicine. University Health Network is a research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto. For more information please visit

About Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospital Foundation Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation raises funds for research, education and the enhancement of patient care at Toronto General Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital as well as for their respective research arms, Toronto General Research Institute and Toronto Western Research Institute. The Foundation's vision is to enable global leadership and innovation in health by developing and sustaining strong relationships with University Health Network stakeholders.

Media Contacts: Fiona Hill
Toronto Western Hospital
[email protected]

Priscilla Hsu
Toronto Western Hospital
416-603-5800 ext 5073
[email protected]

For any other information or to make a donation: Jude Alexander
Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation
416-603-5800 ext 6241
[email protected]

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 15, 2010
Last Updated:
September 20, 2010