The history of neuromodulation dates back to ancient times when electric fish were used to treat pain, according to Mark Hallett, chief of the Human Motor Control Section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Today, there is a broad range of non-invasive neuromodulatory devices. Hallett suggests that any part of the brain could potentially be a target for neurostimulation.1
This technology reveals innovative new treatment options. Neurostimulation provides much-needed therapeutic relief for people affected by debilitating neurologic and psychiatric disorders worldwide. From a medical viewpoint, neurostimulation techniques provide the following advantages:
- Specificity: stimulation can be targeted to particular areas avoiding the insurgence of systemic side effects.
- Safety: neurostimulation techniques are generally well-tolerated and almost devoid of dangerous side effects.
- Flexibility: the treatment can be interrupted at any time.2
In its most basic form, a neurostimulation device is comprised of a power supply, a programmable pulse generator, the electrodes in contact with the tissue, and the connection wires. The devices are gaining greater acceptance. The FDA has recently cleared two non-invasive electrical nerve stimulators to manage the symptoms of opioid withdrawal.3 S.T.Genesis is one of the devices.
S.T.Genesis is placed behind the ear and provides auricular stimulation to the cranial nerves. It targets the areas of the brain that are responsible for the symptoms of opioid withdrawal by administering neurostimulation treatment over the course of 120 hours.
For those suffering from opioid use disorder, the initial hours and days of opioid detoxification are the most critical. Patients are more likely to leave treatment prematurely when opioid withdrawal symptoms are not appropriately managed. Pain associated with withdrawal is often a major reason for patients opting out of treatment.4 Neuromodulation devices such as S.T.Genesis are filling an unmet need in opioid withdrawal management.
- Non-Invasive Neuromodulation of the Central Nervous System: Opportunities and Challenges: Workshop Summary. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2015 Nov 2
- Mercante B, Deriu F, Rangon CM. Auricular Neuromodulation: The Emerging Concept beyond the Stimulation of Vagus and Trigeminal Nerves. Medicines (Basel). 2018;5(1):10. Published 2018 Jan 21. doi:10.3390/medicines5010010
- Auricular neural stimulation as a new non-invasive treatment for opioid detoxification, Qureshi et al. Bioelectronic Medicine, 2020 March
- Kamali-Sarvestani et al., 2014