Some startling news from researchers in Australia. A team has used an ultrasound treatment to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. In lab mice. Human trials are set for 2017, but the technique shows promise.
Researchers at the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland have devised the non-invasive ultrasound therapy to effectively de-plaque the brain. Why is that important? It allows the neurons to connect more efficiently in the brain.
The ultrasound therapy clears the brain of neurotoxic amyloid plaques. It’s early, especially being tested in a laboratory, but the treatment could be the breakthrough Alzheimer’s patients and their families have been dreaming of.
Focusing on therapeutic ultrasound, the team was able to beam sound waves into brain tissue without invasive surgery. The waves open up the blood-brain barrier, allowing the body’s waste-removal cells, or microglial cells, to move in.
These cells, once past the blood-brain barrier, scrub out the the toxic beta-amyloid clumps before the barrier is restored. The ultrasound therapy gives the cells a few hour window to do their job before it restores itself.
Alzheimer’s Treatment Success
How successful are we talking? In the lab, the results have been astounding. 75 percent of the mice had their memory functions completely restored with zero damage to surrounding brain tissue.
It’s definitely promising, but patients will have to wait until 2017 for human trials. It could be the team has stumbled upon the novel treatment to turn the tide against the disease.
The neurodegenerative disease is the result of the build-up of two types of lesions – amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. The plaque sits between the neurons and clump together as dense clusters, forming what is commonly referred to as brain plaque.
The disease afflicts about 50 million people worldwide, and the number is expected to grow as baby boomers age. With all the research into the neurodegenerative disease, vaccine research has hit a wall, as has treatments.
What the team in Australia is claiming is a treatment path to tackle the amyloid plaque, by clearing it from a patient’s brain. Here’s hoping the human trials are successful beyond our wildest expectations.