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Cell-Phone-Sized Neurostimulator Could Stop Migraine

Cell-Phone-Sized Neurostimulator Could Stop Migraine

WVU clinical trial evaluates ElectroCore's noninvasive treatment option.

By Sam Brusco, Associate Editor01.27.20
Drugs called triptans are the go-to treatment for migraines, but patients usually can’t take them more than twice a week. Taking too much can trigger a headache, and they aren’t meant to prevent migraine attacks, just cut them short.
 
There is hope for migraine sufferers yet—West Virginia University neurologist Umer Najib is leading a clinical trial to evaluate a cell-phone-sized, noninvasive vagus nerve neurostimulation device developed by ElectroCore to prevent migraines. The six-month trial will pit the device against a “sham” version that looks similar to ElectroCore’s device, but doesn’t actually affect the vagus nerve for the first three months. In the remaining three months, all patients will use the real device. Patients will keep a daily electronic journal and reports to the WVU Headache Center every four weeks.
 
"Noninvasive neuromodulation is a nonpharmacological option with minimal side effects and no drug interactions with anything else that the patient may be taking," Najib said. "It can be safely used in a lot of patients where medications like triptans cannot be used, such as patients with coronary artery disease or stroke."
 
In a future project, Najib and his research partners will also study a neuromodulation device that patients apply to the arm to stop migraines once they’ve started. There is also a study coming that will use wearable sensors to monitor physical changes that occur before, during, and after a migraine attack.
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