April 10 St. Jude Medical Inc said on
Wednesday it received European regulatory approval for a brain
implant to treat an incurable neurological disorder that can
leave its victims wheelchair-bound.
The maker of heart pacemakers, valves and other medical
devices said European regulators approved its Brio, Libra and
LibraXP deep brain stimulation systems for managing symptoms of
primary and secondary Dystonia.
Dystonia causes a person's muscles to involuntarily contract
and spasm. For those who do not respond to medication, deep
brain stimulation may help alleviate symptoms, such as
repetitive, twisting movements.
The device works by delivering electrical pulses to specific
areas of the brain involved in controlling movement.
Dystonia is thought to affect more than 500,000 people in
Primary Dystonia may be genetically inherited; the origin of
the disorder is unknown. Secondary Dystonia is considered
environmental or symptomatic. It may result from a condition
such as a stroke, or from certain medications.
Deep brain stimulation has been used to manage the symptoms
of Parkinson`s disease for more than 15 years. Medtronic Inc
was the first company to develop and market the
technology, which also has been approved to treat Essential
Tremor and some psychiatric disorders.
To implant the device, which is about the size of the face
of a man's wristwatch, a neurosurgeon places two thin leads with
small electrodes into a specific area in the brain - the
subthalamic nucleus or the globus pallidus interna. Both areas
are involved with controlling movement.
The leads are then connected to a power source that is
placed just under the skin, near the pectoral muscle in the
chest, delivering a constant series of painless electrical
The system is programmed specifically for each patient and
can be adjusted as symptoms change or as the disease progresses.
The therapy does not destroy or remove any part of the
brain, like other surgical treatments used for movement
Shares of St. Jude were up 0.3 percent at $41.33 in early