The dystonia community had the chance to hear more about what Dr. JiaRen Chai, DMRF Canada Clinical and Research Fellow, has been up to since his Fellowship began in July 2021. JiaRen Chai, MD, London Movement Disorders Centre at the University of Western Ontario, provided an overview of his work to date in an exclusive DMRF Canada hosted webinar earlier this spring.
Dr. Chai shared highlights from his Clinical and Research Fellowship experience, including the fact that he is honing his skills as a clinician through ongoing exposure to a variety of patients with different forms of dystonia, from cervical to musician’s - as well as patients with DBS systems embedded. As a clinician, he has received specialized training for administering botulinum neurotoxin injections, which is a critical skill, and particularly important given the need for this treatment across Canada.
Dr. Chai is integrating his clinical work into a research project that focuses on Transcranial pulsed current stimulation (tPCS), a form of non-invasive Transcranial brain stimulation. This intervention involves a small device that emits a low current through the skull. Currently in the recruiting phase, Dr. Chai will study patients whose dystonic symptoms return earlier than the 3-months timeframe, which is the standard for receiving botulinum neurotoxin injections. For those patients whose dystonic symptoms return at the 8-week mark, Dr. Chai is interested in testing how tPCS, applied for just 20 minutes to his test group – could reduce dystonic symptoms. Similar studies are being conducted at the London Movement Disorders Centre for other conditions, including Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease, with promising results.
His end goal is to share the results in the form of a publication in a peer-reviewed journal. If there is a positive result, Dr. Chai expects it could inspire additional, larger studies. Stay tuned for additional updates on this research pilot expected later next year.
We are grateful for Merz Therapeutics’ support of this critical program to expand education and training opportunities for the next generation of movement disorder specialists for the treatment of dystonia in Canada.
2021-2023 DMRF Canada Clinical and Research Fellowship (Supported by Merz Therapeutics): Dr. JiaRen Chai (March 2021)