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FDA Panel to Consider Brain Stimulator for Epilepsy
Date:2/21/2013

By Barbara Bronson Gray
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) - A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel will weigh on Friday the merits of a new therapy for some people with epilepsy who have seizures that don't respond to medication.

Smaller and thinner than an implantable defibrillator, the battery-powered, programmable device, called the RNS System, is placed just under the skull during surgery. Electrodes reach from the device to the one or two places in the patient's brain that create the abnormal electrical activity that causes seizures. The device works by short-circuiting nerve cells in that area to normalize brain activity before a seizure is triggered.

"This is the first responsive neuro-stimulation system ever designed," said Frank Fischer, president and CEO of Mountain View Calif.-based NeuroPace Inc., which developed the device. "Our long-term results show that patients have a reduction of 50 percent or more in their seizure frequency, compared to baseline, and a lessening of seizure severity."

The device is designed specifically for people aged 18 and older with partial-onset epilepsy, which occurs when one or more fixed locations in a person's brain start the cascade of nerve firing that creates a seizure.

NeuroPace has done two studies involving a total of 256 patients who were monitored for a period of between two and nine years, without any significant problems, according to Fischer.

Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which a person suffers repeated seizures over time.

It affects more than 2 million Americans, according to the Epilepsy Foundation, making it the third most common neurological disorder in the United States, after Alzheimer's and stroke. Seizures are episodes of disturbed brain activity that cause changes in attention or behavior. Brain cells keep firing instead of acting in an organized way. The malfunctioning electrical system of t
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