gammaCore for Cluster Headache (ITP 19/20)
electroCore™ have developed a device called gammaCore™ which administers vagus nerve stimulation non-invasively by delivering a proprietary signal through the skin to either the right or the left branches of the vagus nerve in the neck.
gammaCore™ is a simple, handheld medical device that enables patients to self-administer discrete doses of nVNS therapy both prophylactically and acutely in the management of their cluster headache. gammaCore works by sending a mild electrical stimulation through the skin to activate the vagus nerve from outside the body.
Cluster headaches are excruciating attacks of pain in one side of the head, often felt around the eye. Cluster headaches (CH) are rare. Anyone can get them, but they’re more common in men and tend to start when a person is in their 30s or 40s. Around 66,000 people in the UK experience cluster headache. Current treatments and therapies can be limited by side effects, and the off-label use of medications designed for the treatment of unrelated conditions is common. Many patients do not gain adequate control of their condition and as such remain ‘treatment refractory’. These patients may end up being referred for an expensive surgical procedure as their last chance of achieving treatment success.
Stimulating the vagus nerve affects many important autonomic functions in the brain and in the body, including neurotransmitters and inflammation levels. A large body of clinical evidence supports the use of non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation (nVNS) in the treatment of primary headache conditions including the acute and preventive treatment of cluster headache. gammaCore differs from other vagus nerve stimulators in being applied to the skin of the neck rather than implanted by a surgical procedure.
Real-world evidence from headache experts shows that in clinical practice, gammaCore is effective in approximately 50 per cent of patients with CH. Patients who respond typically experience reductions in the frequency, duration and severity of CH attacks, and some may even find the condition is placed into remission.