May 4 - An Israeli company is making inroads into the treatment of depression with a helmet-like device designed to stimulate neuronal activity in affected areas of the brain. Brainsway says its technology could also be used to help Parkinson's and Alzheimer's patients, if clinical trials prove successful. Elly Park reports.
Israeli company Brainsway says its patented helmet provides a non-invasive, but highly effective treatment alternative for depression and other neurological disorders. The device sends targeted electromagnetic pulses into the brain, to stimulate previously unreachable neurons in affected areas. This method, called transcranial magnetic stimulation is a better and safer version of conventional electro-shock therapy, according to Chief Technology Officer Ronen Segal. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRAINSWAY CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER RONEN SEGAL SAYING: "So the result is remission and response rates which is higher than any treatment available today and we can give new hope and sometimes new life for these patients who are suffering for years and years from these devastating conditions like clinical depression and other psychiatric conditions and also in the neurological field." The company received a major boost last year when the US Food and Drug Administration approved the system to treat patients suffering from major depression. But Segal says the helmet is capable of much more. He says trials for treating diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's are showing promising results. SOUNDBITE) (English) BRAINSWAY CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER RONEN SEGAL SAYING: "We have an electromagnetic coil which is designed to target a specific area in the brain which is related to a specific disease" Company founder Uzi Sofer says he's excited by the possibilities.. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRAINSWAY CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND FOUNDER UZI SOFER SAYING: "With tools, like imaging, we can personalize treatment for each patient." So far, Brainsway has sold more than 70 units, mostly in the United States, but sees a bright future all over the world, both for itself and its patients.