COLUMBUS, Ohio – Modulation and regulation of a
region in the brain that has been linked to addictive behavior could
potentially be a promising new treatment for patients with severe obesity who
have failed previous therapies including gastric bypass surgery.
Deep-brain stimulation (DBS), also
known as a brain pacemaker, has been proven safe and effective and is FDA
approved for the treatment of several movement disorders such as Parkinson’s
disease, tremor, dystonia, and severe obsessive compulsive disorder.
Researchers are also investigating the use of DBS for major depression and
A team of investigators at the Ohio State University has received approval from
the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the use of brain pacemakers as
a treatment for obesity. The investigators include neurosurgeons, bariatric
surgeons, psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, neuroscientists, and
other related specialists who have developed the new approach.
Obesity is characterized by a body mass index (BMI) score of
30 or higher. Federal health officials estimate that about 35 percent of adults
in the United States
are obese, and 2.8 percent of men and almost 7 percent of women are in the
“extreme obesity” category, with a BMI greater than 40.
researchers and clinicians make the case and rationale for deep-brain
stimulation research as an obesity treatment in an article published in the August
issue of the journal Neurosurgery.
The goal is to use deep-brain stimulation in
these patients to improve the function, regulation and control of the brain
reward center, according to Dr. Ali Rezai, professor of neurological surgery at
Wexner Medical Center.
“These are very disabled patients who are suffering from their obesity,” he
“Research shows that many of the complexities of obesity are
traced to faulty signals in the brain. Considering the heightened health risks
in obese individuals and the problems that some patients have after bariatric
surgery, it is reasonable to consider deep-brain stimulation as a treatment
option that needs to be explored,” added Rezai.
State team includes Dr. Rezai, also
director of the Center for Neuromodulation at Wexner
Medical Center, collaborating with Dr. Bradley Needleman who is the
director of the bariatric surgery program at Wexner Medical
For a high
quality JPEG of Dr. Ali Rezai, go to: http://go.osu.edu/K4h
Wexner Medical Center Public Affairs and Media Relations, 614-293-3737, or Ohio State
University’s Research and
Innovation Communications, 614-292-8310