Is ultrasound dementia’s biggest foe?

One of the biggest problems with trying to stop dementia in its tracks is the problem of the blood-brain barrier. This useful barrier normally helps to protect us from toxins and other harmful products but the downside is that it is very difficult for drugs to cross this barrier and treat brain-related diseases. However, a recent study in Nature Communication might just change that. This recent study has found that ultrasound waves can safely open the blood-brain barrier in patients with Alzheimer’s.

The study, which uses MR-focus ultrasound waves to reversibly open the Blood-Brain barrier, which normally forms a protective layer around the small vessels in the brain and stops therapeutic drugs from entering. Dr. Nir Lipsman, lead author and Director of the Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre says, “By successfully, safely and reversibly opening the blood-brain barrier in patients with early to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, we can support the continued investigation of focused ultrasound as a potential novel treatment, and further study the delivery of therapies that otherwise cannot access the brain.”

Staff at the Harquail Centre for Neuromodulation at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre using focused ultrasound to reach previously unreachable areas of the brain.

Dr Sandra Black, the study co-principal based at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the University of Toronto, stated, “While it is still early in development, in the future focused ultrasound may provide a non-invasive, effective way of delivering large molecules such as antibodies or even stem cells directly to the brain to help patients with Alzheimer’s. We are pioneering exciting potential innovative treatment options for patients.”

So, the results indicated that the use of focused ultrasound may allow beneficial treatment to be administered directly to the brain where previously this has not been an option.

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