There are currently no therapies proven to promote early recovery of consciousness in patients with severe brain injuries in the intensive care unit (ICU). For patients whose families face time-sensitive, life-or-death decisions, treatments that promote recovery of consciousness are needed to reduce the likelihood of premature withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy, facilitate autonomous self-expression, and increase access to rehabilitative care. Here, we present the Connectome-based Clinical Trial Platform (CCTP), a new paradigm for developing and testing targeted therapies that promote early recovery of consciousness in the ICU. We report the protocol for STIMPACT (Stimulant Therapy Targeted to Individualized Connectivity Maps to Promote ReACTivation of Consciousness), a CCTP-based trial in which intravenous methylphenidate will be used for targeted stimulation of dopaminergic circuits within the subcortical ascending arousal network (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03814356). The scientific premise of the CCTP and the STIMPACT trial is that personalized brain network mapping in the ICU can identify patients whose connectomes are amenable to neuromodulation. Phase 1 of the STIMPACT trial is an open-label, safety and dose-finding study in 22 patients with disorders of consciousness caused by acute severe traumatic brain injury. Patients in Phase 1 will receive escalating daily doses (0.5–2.0 mg/kg) of intravenous methylphenidate over a 4-day period and will undergo resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging and electroencephalography to evaluate the drug’s pharmacodynamic properties. The primary outcome measure for Phase 1 relates to safety: the number of drug-related adverse events at each dose. Secondary outcome measures pertain to pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics: (1) time to maximal serum concentration; (2) serum half-life; (3) effect of the highest tolerated dose on resting-state functional MRI biomarkers of connectivity; and (4) effect of each dose on EEG biomarkers of cerebral cortical function. Predetermined safety and pharmacodynamic criteria must be fulfilled in Phase 1 to proceed to Phase 2A. Pharmacokinetic data from Phase 1 will also inform the study design of Phase 2A, where we will test the hypothesis that personalized connectome maps predict therapeutic responses to intravenous methylphenidate. Likewise, findings from Phase 2A will inform the design of Phase 2B, where we plan to enroll patients based on their personalized connectome maps. By selecting patients for clinical trials based on a principled, mechanistic assessment of their neuroanatomic potential for a therapeutic response, the CCTP paradigm and the STIMPACT trial have the potential to transform the therapeutic landscape in the ICU and improve outcomes for patients with severe brain injuries.
- Brain injury
- Clinical trial
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine