Rewiring the Brain

The first clinical trial of deep brain stimulation for drug addiction launched in Shanghai and may be heading to the US.

In the past, DBS—surgical implantation of a device in the brain that can electronically stimulate specific areas—has yielded mixed results. A recent pilot study found that 5 of 8 heroin users remained clean 2 years post-surgery.

In the US, prohibitive costs and ethics concerns had limited DBS research, whereas China’s large patient population, government funding and eager medical device companies spur riskier research.

America’s crushing opioid epidemic may be changing regulatory reluctance: The FDA recently approved a DBS trial for opioid addiction.



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