A few years ago, scientists from the Queensland Brain Institute based at the University of Queensland developed a scanning ultrasound approach which was able to restore memories in mice and even reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
At the time, the news was very exciting, but still very preliminary having only been proven in mice.
The research has now moved to a second stage and, while still only working with animal models, the news is promising. Published in the journal Brain, the researchers found that combining the ultrasound therapy with an antibody treatment was even more effective at removing the toxic proteins which clump around the brain, and reduce Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.
Professor Jürgen Gotz, Director of the Queensland Brain Institutes Clem Jones Centre for Ageing and Dementia Research said this combination treatment increased uptake of the therapeutic antibody into the brain and its individual neurons, and could be used to make treatments for brain diseases more cost-effective.
However, it is still some time away from human trials, but the researchers are excited because delivering drugs to the brain can be difficult due to the blood–brain barrier, which exists to prevent toxins from entering the bloodstream. The good news is that the ultrasound approach can temporarily open the barrier, increasing the uptake of drug treatments and restoring memory functions.
Where to next?
The researchers want to undertake future studies to determine whether continued treatment can clear Tau proteins completely from the brains of mice and prevent memory impairment in mice with Alzheimer’s disease.
It is still hoped this research and technique could be applied to human treatments, but this is still some time away from becoming reality.
Read the original study here – https://academic.oup.com/brain/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/brain/awx052