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MUSC Research Offers Hope for Those Resistant to Depression,Treatment

CHARLESTON, S.C., March 23, 2007 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) have announced the results of a two-year study, which tested the long-term antidepressant response to VNS (Vagus Nerve Stimulation) Therapy(TM) in patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD). The study, of which Mark S. George, M.D., MUSC Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, Radiology and Neurosciences is a lead author, will appear in the April 2007 issue of the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. Results showed that, of the patients who responded to VNS Therapy, either early or later in treatment, the majority continued to experience significant clinical benefit for up to 24 months. VNS Therapy is the first and only treatment for TRD to demonstrate such long-term improvements.

Patients included in this study, led by Harold A. Sackeim, PhD, of , experienced severe chronic depression which proved to be treatment-resistant. The study participants had a 50 percent improvement in their depressive symptoms at either three months or a year after being treated with VNS Therapy. Between 61 and 79 percent of patients sustained this response for 24 months. The durability of response was not attributable to alterations in other treatments.

"These data showing durability of response with VNS Therapy are pretty remarkable under any circumstances, but particularly for the patient population studied here," said George. "Patients with TRD don't respond to medications, and even when they do, they often develop tolerance after 6 months, and the depression returns. These findings regarding long-term sustained effectiveness are very encouraging for psychiatrists and patients with treatment-resistant depression. This study analysis provides additional confirmation that, at least for some patients, the benefits of VNS Therapy for TRD are long-term and improve over time."

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