Alzheimer’s is related to the buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain, so any serious attempt at dislodging these plaques may help reverse the progression of the disease. The perennial problem with delivering drug therapies to treat brain conditions is the blood-brain barrier that prevents most molecules from penetrating through its defenses. For example, drugs that treat multiple different cancers will typically not work for glioblastoma.
Researchers at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center are now working at identifying whether using ultrasound and microbubbles could be an effective way to get rid of amyloid plaques. The idea is not to use ultrasound to resonate the plaques, so as to adislodge them, but to open up the blood-brain barrier so that the body’s own immune system can get in there and perhaps work at clearing the brain.
The researchers are using a system from Insightec, which works inside an MRI scanner to precisely deliver ultrasound waves, in a very focused fashion, into the patient’s body. While the therapy is delivered, clinicians are able to monitor its progress and communicate with the patient.
It is hoped that after a few therapy sessions that there will be an improvement in symptoms. But even if there’s not, and the treatment doesn’t seem to be harmful, then the next steps will probably be to try delivering medicines that were previously impossible to even try due to the blood-brain barrier.
Check out this video report about the trial from Ohio State: