Surgically accessing the Vagus Nerve is not trivial, and implanting a VNS system involving cuff electrodes is risky and recovery is lengthy. Enter ElectroCore Medical of Bernards Township, New Jersey – it is developing non-invasive VNS therapies that treat or prevent symptoms of serious headache conditions, including migraines and cluster headaches, and bronchoconstriction including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).
Its gammaCore® therapy is applied using a hand-held, non-invasive neurostimulator device, and is used to treat primary headaches in adults, including migraine, cluster headache, and medication overuse headache. According to ElectroCore, “gammaCore relies on the activation of afferent A-fibers in the vagus nerve which is not implicated in negative cardiac or respiratory effects.” Results from studies of the therapy as both an acute and preventative against these headache types have been promising, and are ongoing around the world.
In an acute migraine prospective pilot study of 26 patients, the gammaCore demonstrated meaningful improvement in headache symptoms: 58% of patients reach mild or no pain by 2 hours, 28% were pain free.
In an open label case study, the gammaCore provided benefit to 13 of 14 intractable cluster headache sufferers, with an overall 60% improvement in symptoms. Benefits of the gammaCore included a reduction in acute headache severity, including fully aborting individual cluster attacks, as well as a reduction in overall frequency of attacks. Seven patients reported a significant or total reduction in use of their abortive treatments.
In an acute migraine prospective pilot study of 26 patients, 72% of patients experienced pain relief (mild or no pain) by 15 minutes; 85% by 30 minutes.
ElectroCore is looking at other applications for its non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation technology. Their website briefly describes the alphaCore® vagus nerve stimulator that indicated for the treatment or prevention of symptoms of reactive airway disease including asthma, COPD, and exercise-induced bronchospasm. The website also shows that ElectroCore has interest in developing therapies for epilepsy, as well as for anxiety and depression.