Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo


Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

“I think this concept has a stronger scientific basis than constant medication for a condition that comes and goes,” says Ivan Osorio, a neurologist at the University of Kansas Medical Center, who has developed a similar system. “It may also increase [effectiveness] because it addresses changes at the time they occur.”

It’s not yet clear if the therapy will be successful: an ongoing clinical trial of 180 patients is only about 25 percent complete. But early results are promising. The device appears to be well tolerated and does suppress seizures in some patients. “There’s not a lot of efficacy data out there yet,” says Brian Litt, a neurologist and bioengineer at the University of Pennsylvania, who developed some of the algorithms used in the device. “But I’ve seen some beautiful anecdotal recordings where you can see the seizure starting and the device deploying and stopping the seizure without the patient ever knowing.”

The same factors that make the Neuropace device unique also make it more challenging to administer. The location of a seizure and its electrical characteristics can vary from person to person. And neurologists must find the optimal detection and stimulation settings for every individual, a task that involves a certain amount of trial and error.

Each day, the patient uses a wand to wirelessly download electrical data recorded by the device to a laptop, where it is then uploaded for the patient’s doctor to peruse. The doctor can monitor the effectiveness of the therapy and change parameters as needed. “We don’t yet know what the ideal stimulation parameters are,” says Gregory Bergey, director of the Johns Hopkins Epilepsy Center, who is leading one arm of the ongoing trial.

But the data generated during these studies should help. Scientists can analyze the reams of data to create better prediction and detection algorithms, a process that is already under way. “This device is making big contributions to the field, though that doesn’t mean it will make big clinical contributions in its first run,” says Litt.

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Credit: Neuropace

Tagged: Biomedicine, neuroscience, disease, implant, EEG, electrodes

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives


Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me