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Banner Alzheimer’s Institute first
U. S. center to study ‘brain pacemaker’ for Alzheimer’s


PHOENIX, Ariz. (Aug. 8, 2012) – Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI) is the first study site in the United States to participate in a cutting edge clinical trial utilizing deep brain stimulation (DBS) as a possible way to stave off the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Functional Neuromodulation Ltd. has partnered with BAI to initiate the ADvance Study which will assess DBS in patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s. DBS uses an implanted device to electronically stimulate the brain.  The system includes a pacemaker-like device that is implanted beneath the skin in the patient’s chest and two wires that deliver electrical pulses directly to a part of the brain that acts as a “super highway” connecting memory centers to other parts of the brain.

The study’s principal investigator at BAI is Anna Burke, MD, a geriatric psychiatrist and dementia specialist. 

“DBS is a novel approach to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Burke said. “Banner Alzheimer’s Institute is excited to lead the way as the first center in the United States to perform this groundbreaking investigational procedure. We are hopeful that this research study will pave the way for better treatments for this debilitating disease and ultimately bring us one step closer to finding a cure.”

The actual device and surgery are not new, Dr. Burke said. DBS is FDA approved and has been used for years in the treatment of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, and treatment resistant Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. However, it is only now being tested in Alzheimer’s disease. This study follows an initial trial in Canada. The ADvance Study is a critical next step in determining whether this therapy can offer a new hope for those with mild, or early-stage Alzheimer’s.

Francisco Ponce, MD, the study’s sub investigator and director of Barrow Neurological Institute’s Center for Neuromodulation, will perform surgeries to implant the devices at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center.

“Over the past two decades, these brain pacemakers have revolutionized the treatment of patients with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders,” Dr. Ponce said. “The possibility that DBS may reactivate the memory circuits in Alzheimer’s disease is very exciting, since current medical therapies have limited benefit.” 

BAI is currently recruiting patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease for The ADvance Study.  Patients may be eligible to participate in the study if they are 55 to 80 years old, live at home, are currently taking medication for Alzheimer’s and have a caregiver who can accompany them to doctor visits. For information about participating in the study, patients and their caregivers can call 1-866-840-5838 or log onto

In addition to BAI, patients are currently being recruited for the ADvance study at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, the University of Florida Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration, and Toronto Western Hospital in Canada. The study is expected to expand to a number of other leading Alzheimer’s clinical research centers in the U.S.

About Banner Alzheimer’s Institute
Through its research and care, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI) is dedicated to the goal of ending Alzheimer’s disease without losing another generation. It is helping to launch a new era of Alzheimer’s research—treatment and prevention at the pre-symptomatic stage—and to establish a new comprehensive model of care. Established in 2006 by Banner Health, one of the country’s largest nonprofit health care systems, BAI has a three-fold focus: to conduct revolutionary studies in the detection, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s; to set a national standard of patient and family care; and to forge scientific collaborations that bring together institutions and disciplines internationally. For more information, visit

About Functional Neuromodulation Ltd.
Founded in Toronto, Ontario in 2010, Functional Neuromodulation is dedicated to advancing the application of deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapies to help improve the lives of people with Alzheimer’s and other memory and cognitive disorders.  The Company has received funding from Genesys Capital, Foundation Medical Partners and Medtronic.  Functional Neuromodulation has entered into a partnership with Medtronic, under which Medtronic is providing its state-of-the-art DBS devices for the ADvance Study and access to Medtronic’s related device regulatory filings.  For more information, visit


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