Earlier this year, DMRF Canada proudly confirmed funding for a dystonia research project taking place right here in Canada by William Hutchison, PhD, Toronto Western Hospital (Canada).
The project, Tremor, Ocillations, Synaptic Plasticity, and DBS for Dystonia examines how and why DBS works for dystonia treatment. Intervention by chronic deep brain stimulation (DBS) in the globus pallidus internus (GPi) has been found beneficial in treating severe cases of dystonia but the mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology and the DBS treatment are poorly understood. This study seeks to better understand how and why DBS works. The researchers propose using microelectrode recordings of dystonia patients to investigate cell activity in an area of the brain called the the globus pallidus. In addition, they will use microstimulation and focally evoked field potentials (fEPs) to determine whether there are functional abnormalities in inhibitory processes at neurosurgical target sites. They will obtain synaptic plasticity measures and correlate these to the type and severity of dystonia using clinical rating scores.
The goal is to gain insight into the mechanisms of tremor and dystonia. The researchers hope to possibly translate this knowledge to develop new targets for pharmacological intervention.
This project is funded by Dystonia Medical Research Foundation Canada for two years - 2017, and 2018.