Is tinnitus more common in autistic people

New therapy for ADHD and autism

Press release No. 23/2017 from 02/03/2017

EU funds international brain stimulation project

Chronic mental disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are common diagnoses in children and adolescents. The traditional treatment of these diseases involves the use of drugs and psychotherapy. Under the direction of Professor Michael Siniatchkin, Medical Faculty of the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU), an international consortium is now investigating an alternative treatment method in which the brain is to be stimulated with a weak electrical direct current. The scientists also want to develop a device that allows treatment at home. The European Commission is funding the research project STIPED (STImulation in PEDiatrics) with a total of 6 million euros in the “Horizon 2020” program over five years. Around 2 million euros of this will go to Kiel University. The participating scientists started the research project yesterday (Thursday, February 2nd) with a kick-off meeting in Kiel.

Chronic mental disorders have been shown to reduce the quality of life of those affected with ADHD or ASD, as they can put a great strain on families, both socially and financially. However, many children and adolescents do not respond adequately to the treatment options available to date, such as drug or behavioral therapy. “Our project envisages a simple treatment method that can be easily integrated into the everyday life of children and adolescents. With this method, the brain areas associated with the mechanisms of ADHD and ASD are stimulated with a very weak electric current in order to improve their function, ”explains project leader Professor Michael Siniatchkin from the Institute for Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology. The non-invasive transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is used. "For 15 years, the technology has proven to be well tolerated, easy to carry out and cost-effective in the treatment of diseases such as depression, chronic pain, tinnitus, psychoses or in rehabilitation after the consequences of a stroke," emphasizes Siniatchkin. "We are very optimistic that brain stimulation can also be a safe alternative to previous treatments for neuropsychiatric disorders such as ADHD and ASD," the project manager continues. In the STIPED project, the scientific team is researching for the first time the effects of this type of brain stimulation on children and adolescents with ADHD and ASD.

A total of five clinical studies are planned as part of the research project. In addition to the children and their families, caregivers and teachers are also involved in the respective questions of the studies. This ensures that the new treatment method fits in well with the life of those affected and that any concerns and requirements are adequately considered. This is accompanied by ethical research, explains Alena Buyx, Professor of Medical Ethics at the Institute for Experimental Medicine: “Children with disorders such as ADHD and ASD are a group that needs special protection. That is why we at STIPED pay particular attention to ethically correct procedures in research. In addition, we want to find out in a survey study how those involved evaluate the new methods and what ethical and social implications they can have. "

In parallel to the studies, the consortium is also working on the development of a special electron cap with which those affected can be treated directly at home - supported by a personal teleservice. This remote medical care enables safe, continuous monitoring of symptoms and stimulation parameters. Doctors' appointments and health costs can be reduced and at the same time the acceptance of the treatment increased. In addition to the treatment of ADHD and ASD, the project will also open up new avenues for the treatment of a variety of other chronic mental disorders.

Those interested can register to take part in the ADHD and ASD studies from June 2017.

About the consortium:
The consortium consists of the following organizations: Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein, Institute for Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, Institute for Experimental Medicine, Institute for Medical Informatics and Statistics and Center for Clinical Studies), Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, University of Coimbra, University of Lisbon, University Hospital Tours (CHU), Center for Integrative Psychiatry Kiel, Neuroelectrics SLU, Starlab Barcelona, ​​ARTTIC.

About the research framework program Horizon 2020
Horizon 2020 is the largest EU funding program for research and innovation to date, with funding of almost 80 billion euros available to the program over a period of 7 years (2014 to 2020). It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries, and world firsts by bringing new ideas from the laboratory to the market. The STIPED project is funded as part of the focus on societal challenges (call: new therapies for chronic diseases). Chronic diseases place a considerable burden on the individual and the health systems of the European Union and beyond. Innovative and effective therapeutic approaches are therefore necessary in order to provide the best quality care when prevention strategies fail. Although biomedical research has gained considerable knowledge in recent years, the development of new therapies has stagnated, partly due to a lack of clinical validation.

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A test person works on a simple reaction time task while being stimulated with direct current.
Photo / Copyright: Uwe Niederberger / IMPS

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The test person wears the stimulation cap. A visualization of the electrode position can be seen on the screen.
Photo / Copyright: Uwe Niederberger / IMPS

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The EEG hood is prepared for the measurement of brain waves.
Photo / Copyright: Uwe Niederberger / IMPS

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Press contact:
Karolin Waschull
Email: [email protected]
Tel .: 0431 500 30813

Contact for interested study participants:
Dr. Vera Moliadze
Phone: 0431/500 30835
Email: [email protected]

Christian Albrechts University in Kiel
Press, communication and marketing, Dr. Boris Pavlovsky
Postal address: D-24098 Kiel, phone: (0431) 880-2104, fax: (0431) 880-1355
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Text / editing: ► Raissa Nickel