Shanghai’s Ruijin Hospital Leads a DBS Implant Study for Addiction: China A DBS Hub in the Making?

May 9, 2019 | Addiction, Brain Stimulation, China, DBS, Opioids

Brain Research

Erika Kinetz from Associated Press was noted in US News & World Report that Shanghai’s Ruijin Hospital is conducting clinical trials involving Deep Brain Simulation (DBS): the implanting of devices in the brain that act as a pacemaker—electrically simulating targeted areas. DBS trials have floundered in the west. They are picking up in China, which has become a DBS hub for clinical research.

In Europe and the United States, DBS studies struggle due to a number of complex ethical, social and scientific not to mentioned economic factors. In China, where there is a long history of brain surgery for drug addiction, stricter laws can force drug addicts into years of compulsory treatment. Moreover, with large patient populations and plenty of government funds—not to mention ready and able medical device companies ready to pay for DBS research—the conditions are fertile for an explosion of DBS activity.

According to National Institutes of Health clinical trials database, there are eight registered DBS clinical trials for drug addiction currently underway around the world—six are in China. Things may be changing in America based on the ongoing ravages of the opioid epidemic.  Apparently, the FDA has approved a clinical trial in West Virginia for DBS opioid addiction. That state lies right in the epicenter of the crisis.

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