A study reported (13th March 2014) in the International Headache Society’s official journal Cephalalgia found that the use of electroCore’s non invasive vagus nerve stimulation therapy (nVNS) may be an effective and well tolerated treatment for migraine in certain patients.
The open label study, which was led by Professor Goadsby, was carried out by the University of California, San Francisco and at four other sites in the US involving 30 patients.
Of the 30 enrolled patients 27 used the nVNS therapy to treat a total of 80 migraine attacks. Patients with moderate or severe headache attacks reported pain freedom or relief in, twenty-three out of fifty-four attacks (43%). This included twelve out of fifty-four attacks where the patients reported being pain free at two hours after treatment (22%). Additionally, in ten of twenty-six attacks when the patient treated while the pain was mild the patients reported being pain free at two hours (38%).
No unanticipated, serious or severe adverse events were reported and the paper stated that nVNS seems much better tolerated than the more potent triptans and does not have comparable cardiovascular or cerebrovascular concerns.
The study also found that certain patients responded positively on a consistent basis. Of eighteen patients who treated at least three attacks, six were pain free on two-thirds of occasions (33%).
JP Errico CEO and founder of electroCore commented. “We are delighted to see that this easy to use treatment was found to be effective in a substantial number of patients for this debilitating and painful condition. The authors of this report noted the need for further placebo controlled trials and we are presently carrying out four double blind randomised controlled studies in the US and Europe which will read out in the second half of this year”
electroCore’s proprietary, non invasive electrical stimulation therapy works by activating specific fibres in the vagus nerve bundle. This activation causes the release of inhibitory neurotransmitters within the central nervous system, and reduces the over expression of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, which has been implicated in a number of different disorders.
Patients self treat by holding the device on their neck over the vagus nerve for two minutes. All patients are trained in the use of the device to ensure they place it correctly and they use the appropriate setting.
The great benefit of this therapy is that it is very safe. Surgically implanted VNS has been in use for more than 20 years in over a 100,000 patients without any side effects. It can also be used in conjunction with other medications as the chemicals it produces are endogenous and contained within the central nervous system.