- Researchers at West Virginia University have treated the first patient in a first-in-the-world clinical trial investigating focused ultrasound to address opioid use disorder.
- The trial aims to reduce patients’ substance cravings and addictive behaviors.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the addiction crisis, and researchers hope to be able to offer patients a new treatment option.
Researchers at West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) have treated the first patient in a first-in-the-world clinical trial investigating focused ultrasound to treat patients with opioid use disorder.
The study aims to evaluate the safety and efficacy of using Insightec’s Exablate Neuro focused ultrasound device to reduce substance cravings and addictive behaviors.
The first patient, a 39-year-old business owner from West Virginia who has struggled with substance use disorder for more than 15 years, underwent focused ultrasound therapy in February. Prior to and during the procedure, the team used visuals of drug use and drug paraphernalia to induce cravings. While researchers stress that the results are preliminary, they are encouraged by the patient’s early positive response. In all, researchers plan to enroll four patients in this initial trial.
“COVID-19 has tragically intensified our nation’s addiction crisis,” said Dr. Ali Rezai, RNI executive chair and principal investigator of this study. “We need to explore technological innovations such as focused ultrasound to help patients and families impacted by addiction. At the RNI, we are routinely using focused ultrasound as an FDA-approved procedure to treat tremors and are conducting clinical trials to explore its potential for treating Alzheimer’s disease and brain tumors.”