April 29, 2013 – University of Virginia neurosurgeon W. Jeffrey Elias reported today that one-year clinical data indicates that essential tremor patients treated with noninvasive transcranial focused ultrasound experienced significant disability reduction and improved quality of life. The research, which was funded by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, showed that patients experienced a 67 percent reduction in their dominant hand tremor scores and an 83 percent improvement in their disability scores.
“It is important to realize from these results and those of other tremor procedures that tremor suppression in the dominant hand, even if it is 75 percent on a rating scale, translates to very significant improvement in functional abilities,” Elias observed. “Our patients experienced almost no residual disabilities in day-to-day activities with this degree of tremor suppression.”
A key study conclusion is that transcranial MR-guided focused ultrasound thalamotomy seems feasible and safe enough to proceed with more comprehensive clinical trials. Later this year, Elias will lead a Phase III pivotal clinical trial that is expected to involve eight sites on three continents and treat 72 patients.
Tremor community expresses strong interest
Elias noted that UVA researchers were “extremely surprised” by the amount of interest the tremor community had in this clinical trial. “We have been contacted by more than 2,000 people with tremor, which I think reflects their desire for more treatment options than we currently offer.”
Study co-authors are Diane Huss, PhD; Johanna Loomba, BS; Mohamad Khaled, MD, MS; Eyal Zadicario, MSc; Scott Sperling, PhD; Robert Frysinger, PhD; Binit Shah, MD; Madaline Harrison, MD; and Max Wintermark, MD. – Written by Ellen C., McKenna