ADHD News & Research

Study: New Treatment for Depression Causes Remission in Most Participants

A new treatment for depression, Stanford neuromodulation therapy, works eight times faster than the currently approved protocol and causes remission in nearly 80 percent of patients, according to recent research.

February 17, 2022

A new treatment for depression is more effective and works eight times faster than the current approved protocol, according to a small randomized control trial published recently in The American Journal of Psychiatry1. The new treatment is called Stanford neuromodulation therapy (SNT), an intermittent theta-burst stimulation2 (iTBS) that delivers magnetic pulses to the brain region thought to be implicated in depression.

SNT (previously referred to as Stanford accelerated intelligent neuromodulation therapy or SAINT) builds on iTBS treatment, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved noninvasive brain stimulation protocol for treatment-resistant depression. The FDA has deemed iTBS safe, however traditional iTBS treatment is delivered every day for six weeks and results vary broadly by case. 3

With SNT, scientists take an MRI scan to determine which region of a patient’s brain should receive electric pulses. These iTBS pulses are distributed over a shorter time frame (a total of 10 sessions, each 10 minutes in duration, separated by 50-minute breaks, over five consecutive days) and at higher doses than traditional iTBS.

The randomized control trial identified 29 participants with treatment-resistant depression who were currently experiencing moderate to severe depression. Each participant was randomly assigned to receive active or placebo SNT4

After five days of treatment, 78.6% of participants receiving SNT went into remission. Twelve participants (out of the 14 treated, 12 saw an improvement in their symptoms after four weeks, and the FDA evaluations characterized 11 in remission. Just two of the 15 patients in the placebo group met the same criteria.5

Despite promising results, further trials are needed to determine SNT’s durability and to compare it with other treatments. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and approximately 800,000 suicides occur each year.6

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1Cole, E. J., Phillips, A. L., Bentzley, B. S., Stimpson, K. H., Nejad, R., Barmak, F., Veerapal, C., Khan, N., Cherian, K., Felber, E., Brown, R., Choi, E., King, S., Pankow, H., Bishop, J. H., Azeez, A., Coetzee, J., Rapier, R., Odenwald, N., Carreon, D., … Williams, N. R. (2022). Stanford Neuromodulation Therapy (SNT): A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 179(2), 132–141. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2021.20101429

2Cole, E. J., Phillips, A. L., Bentzley, B. S., Stimpson, K. H., Nejad, R., Barmak, F., Veerapal, C., Khan, N., Cherian, K., Felber, E., Brown, R., Choi, E., King, S., Pankow, H., Bishop, J. H., Azeez, A., Coetzee, J., Rapier, R., Odenwald, N., Carreon, D., … Williams, N. R. (2022). Stanford Neuromodulation Therapy (SNT): A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. The American journal of psychiatry, 179(2), 132–141. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2021.20101429

3Cole, E. J., Phillips, A. L., Bentzley, B. S., Stimpson, K. H., Nejad, R., Barmak, F., Veerapal, C., Khan, N., Cherian, K., Felber, E., Brown, R., Choi, E., King, S., Pankow, H., Bishop, J. H., Azeez, A., Coetzee, J., Rapier, R., Odenwald, N., Carreon, D., … Williams, N. R. (2022). Stanford Neuromodulation Therapy (SNT): A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. The American journal of psychiatry, 179(2), 132–141. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2021.20101429

4 Cole, E. J., Phillips, A. L., Bentzley, B. S., Stimpson, K. H., Nejad, R., Barmak, F., Veerapal, C., Khan, N., Cherian, K., Felber, E., Brown, R., Choi, E., King, S., Pankow, H., Bishop, J. H., Azeez, A., Coetzee, J., Rapier, R., Odenwald, N., Carreon, D., … Williams, N. R. (2022). Stanford Neuromodulation Therapy (SNT): A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. The American journal of psychiatry, 179(2), 132–141. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2021.20101429

5 Cole, E. J., Phillips, A. L., Bentzley, B. S., Stimpson, K. H., Nejad, R., Barmak, F., Veerapal, C., Khan, N., Cherian, K., Felber, E., Brown, R., Choi, E., King, S., Pankow, H., Bishop, J. H., Azeez, A., Coetzee, J., Rapier, R., Odenwald, N., Carreon, D., … Williams, N. R. (2022). Stanford Neuromodulation Therapy (SNT): A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. The American journal of psychiatry, 179(2), 132–141. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2021.20101429

6Friedrich MJ : Depression is the leading cause of disability around the world. JAMA 2017 ; 317(15) : 1517 doi:10.1001/jama.2017.3826

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