Clinical trials for deep brain stimulation: Current state of affairs

Irene E. Harmsen, Gavin J.B. Elias, Michelle E. Beyn, Alexandre Boutet, Aditya Pancholi, Jürgen Germann, Alireza Mansouri, Christopher S. Lozano, Andres M. Lozano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical neuromodulation procedure with a historically wide range of possible therapeutic indications, including movement disorders, neuropsychiatric conditions, and cognitive disorders. Ongoing research in this field is critical to gain further insights into the mechanisms of DBS, to discover novel brain targets for new and existing indications, and to refine targeting and post-operative programming techniques for the optimization of therapeutic outcomes. Objective: To update on the state of DBS-related clinical human research by cataloging and summarizing clinical trials that have been completed or are currently ongoing in this field worldwide. Methods: A search was conducted for clinical trials pertaining to DBS, currently listed on the database. Trials were analyzed to generate a detailed overview of ongoing DBS-related research. Specifically, trials were categorized by trial start date, study completion status, clinical phase, projected subject enrollment, disorder, brain target, country of origin, device manufacturer, funding source, and study topic. Results: In total, 384 relevant clinical trials were identified. The trials spanned 28 different disorders across 26 distinct brain targets, with almost 40% of trials being for conditions other than movement disorders. The majority of DBS trials have been US-based (41.9% of studies) but many countries are becoming increasingly active. The ratio of investigator-sponsored to industry-sponsored trials was 3:1. Emphasizing the need to better understand the mechanism of action of DBS, one-third of the studies predominantly focus on imaging or electrophysiological changes associated with DBS. Conclusions: This overview of current DBS-related clinical trials provides insight into the status of DBS research and what we can anticipate in the future concerning new brain targets, indications, techniques, and developing a better understanding of the mechanisms of action of DBS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-385
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Stimulation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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