A six-week protocol for TMS is already approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression. However, a recent study at Stanford University, entitled Stanford Accelerated Intelligent Neuromodulation Therapy for Treatment-Resistant Depression (SAINT-TRD) demonstrated that when TMS was delivered in a more intensive schedule and accelerated pace, it provided remission from depression in 90% of patients in as little as 3 to 5 days. These results were published online April 7, 2020 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Cambridge Biotherapies now offers such an accelerated brain stimulation treatment for depression.
In the Stanford study, patients underwent 10 sessions per day of 10-minute treatments, with 50-minute breaks between treatments. Each treatment was a modified version of “Theta Burst” TMS, which requires specialized equipment to deliver. After a day of therapy, one study participant’s mood score indicated she was no longer depressed, while it took up to five days for other participants. On average, three days of the therapy were enough for participants to experience relief from depression.
The only side effects of this new, rapid TMS approach were fatigue and some discomfort during treatment.
Of particular note: In order to test safety, the researchers evaluated the participants’ cognitive function before and after treatment. They found no negative side effects. Instead, they discovered that the participants’ ability to switch between mental tasks and to solve problems had improved — a typical outcome for people who are no longer depressed. And one month after the therapy, 60% of participants were still in remission from depression.
At Cambridge Biotherapies we are able to treat patients using precisely the same parameters used in the Stanford study. The only difference in our approach is that we use an effective office-based method of finding the treatment location, called direct brain mapping, rather than MRI.
We have begun treating patients using the Stanford SAINT protocol at Cambridge Biotherapies, and our initial experience with accelerated TMS has led us to feel optimistic that this new treatment approach represents a paradigm shift in TMS therapy, with potential substantial benefits to patients with depression.