Use of ultrasound to control epilepsy studied

Woody Wurster has been a tinkerer all his life.

Wurster, who owns Custom Stamping in Carson City, has long had an outlet for his creativity through his metals-stamping company, which supplies millions of minute custom-designed parts for the electronics industry.

Wurster’s latest invention, though, is no less ambitious than providing a cure for epilepsy.

Wurster also is managing director of Brainsonix Corporation. Brainsonix has created a device for people who have epilepsy that attaches to their heads and treats epilepsy through sounds waves. The device contains a transducer that sends low-density sound waves into a person’s brain (the company calls the process low intensity focused ultrasound pulsation).

Wurster says Brainsonix recently received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test the device and is in the process of recruiting 12 people as test subjects who are prepared to undergo surgery as a means of controlling their condition but would like to try a non-invasive procedure instead.

“We think we can cure epilepsy with non-invasive sound waves,” Wurster says. “By controlling the length of the sounds waves, if we want to depress it we send long, slow sound waves that quiets it down and makes it less active. For other ailments, we can control it by sending lots of short sound waves and activate that part of the brain.”

Wurster has been with Brainsonix the past three years. The firm was founded by Alexander Bystritsky, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles. Brainsonix believes it can use its device in the treatment of depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, autism, Parkinson’s Diseases and Huntington’s disease, among other medical conditions.

Brainsonix has yet to solidify a name under which to market the product or a distribution plan for the transducer device, but Wurster says one possible scenario is to lease the device to doctor’s offices. The transducer needs to be calibrated and adjusted specifically to each patient after they have an MRI to determine the best location to connect it to stimulate parts of the brain, so having a dedicated device for each patient shaves adjustment time and the exorbitant expense of magnetic resonance imaging, Wurster says.

After a round of treatments, the device could be returned to Brainsonix to be refurbished and cleaned for the next patient, he adds.

The Brainsonix device will be manufactured using Custom Stamping’s production equipment. Wurster says bringing the product to market could be a long time coming as Brainsonix navigates through clinical testing and evaluation with the FDA.

“The timing on this is totally out of my control,” Wurster says.


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