Repeated Non-invasive Electrical Stimulation Treatments could Slow Brain Tumor Growth

Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA – In a first-of-its kind study, neurologists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center tested the use of non-invasive electrical stimulation as a novel therapeutic approach to brain tumors. In this study, published in Science Advances, the scientists at the Berenson-Allen Center For Non- Invasive Brain Stimulation demonstrated that applying lowintensity electrical stimulation (Direct Current: tDCs) to the brains of patients with tumors resulted in decreased blood flow within tumors while leaving the rest of the brain unchanged. The findings suggest that a series of such treatments could slow tumor growth and progression.

First-of-its-kind study suggests repeated treatments could slow tumor growth

“Many patients with brain tumors have limited therapeutic options, most of which come with severe side effects,” said one of the authors, who is also an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. “Our study found that electrical stimulation resulted in a significant reduction of blood flow to the tumor, with no changes in the rest of the brain. Given the safety profile of non-invasive brain stimulation, the ease of its application, its relatively low cost and the possibility of combining it with other drug-based therapies, our findings may offer a non-invasive therapeutic option for patients with brain tumors.”

Non-invasive brain stimulation – also known as transcranial electrical stimulation (tES) – is a technology that is used to treat a number of psychiatric conditions, including treatment-resistant depression. Low-intensity electrical fields are delivered to the brain through the skull via electrodes placed on the scalp.

The treatment has become a safe and relatively low cost treatment for psychiatric disorders and enhancement of cognitive skills such as memory and concentration. This study represents the first time tES has been tested in patients with brain tumors.

The Institute of Functional Neuroscience is one of the leading providers of clinical therapeutic neuroplasticity and has been utilising non-invasive forms of tES for over 10 years.

“This technique requires further investigation to optimize frequency and duration of treatment and to fully personalize protocols for individual patients,” said Dr Randy Beck, the Executive Director of the Institute of Functional Neuroscience (IFN). “The Institute intends to be involved in future clinical studies aimed at investigating the impact of repeated tES sessions on these aggressive tumors that originate in the brain, and with metastatic tumors, that originate in other organs and eventually spread to the brain. We also intend to evaluate the potential combination of tES with other cancer therapies and assess tES effectiveness in other forms of brain tumors in both adults and children.”

For more information about this topic or other brain or spinal cord related questions please contact the Institute of Functional Neurology via email [email protected] or visit our website at


Reference G. Sprugnoli, L. Monti, L. Lippa, F. Neri, L. Mencarelli, G. Ruffini, R. Salvador, G. Oliveri,B. Batani, D. Momi, A. Cerase, A. Pascual-Leone, A. Rossi, S. Rossi, E. Santarnecchi, Reduction of intratumoral brain perfusion by noninvasive transcranial electrical stimulation. Sci. Adv. 5,eaau9309 (2019).