ElectroCore’s noninvasive vagus nerve stimulation treatment showed success in treating menstrual-related migraines, one of the most common types of migraine that women experience.
The device, gammaCore, treats migraine and cluster headaches by delivering a mild electric signal to the vagus nerve through the skin of the neck. The hand-held device is about the size of a mobile phone. While the company is uncertain exactly how vagus nerve stimulation alleviates migraines and headaches, research suggests it may cause the brain to reduce the amount of glutamate, which has been associated with headaches.
GammaCore has a CE mark for the treatment and prevention of primary headache, including migraines. ElectroCore is still awaiting an FDA decision on the device. In addition to clinical trials for migraine and cluster headaches, the device is also in trials for gastric motility.
In an open-label study involving 56 women, therapy using the gammaCore cut the average number of migraine days by 35% and lessened the pain intensity of the migraines that did occur, according to a statement. And it decreased analgesic use by 37%.
“This is a significant result for the many millions of women who suffer from this particularly challenging form of migraine every month,” said Professor Licia Grazzi of the Carlo Besta Neurological Institute in Milan, who led the study, in the statement. “The treatment, which the patient administers with gammaCore, is easy to use and has none of the usual side effects that many existing treatments cause.”
Bioelectronics, or electroceuticals, focus on stimulating the body to heal itself from illness. The theory behind it is to cause biochemical changes in the body that are typically brought about by drugs, and to use the treatments in tandem with drugs or to replace drugs altogether.