A revolutionary new way of treating some of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease may be on the horizon—using ultrasound. New research has yielded some exciting news from across the Pacific in Queensland, Brisbane:
While the approach has only been tested in mice, researchers said on Wednesday it proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains and improving their memory, as measured by tests such as navigating a maze. In the past, high-energy ultrasound has been combined with injected microbubbles, which vibrate in response to sound waves, to get drugs across the so-called blood brain barrier.Gerhard Leinega, a Graduate student who has worked on this study for 3 years:
"Definitely if we can improve the functioning in daily life and delay the progression of the disease, then it will have a huge benefit not just to the patients but to their families and carers," he said. In Alzheimer's sufferers, a plaque of the toxic protein amyloid beta builds up within the blood-brain barrier.This is a small glimmer of hope in alleviating some of the terrible symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. It's important to point out that this potential treatment doesn't treat the underlying disease. Also, mice brains are nowhere near as complex as the human brain and human trials won't happen for at least a couple of years.
Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research director Professor Jurgen Gotz said the new method could revolutionise Alzheimer's treatment. "The word breakthrough is often misused but in this case I think this really does fundamentally change our understanding of how to treat this disease and I foresee a great future for this approach," he said.