Ultrasounds could bolster treatments for Alzheimer’s disease

A new study led by Australian researchers is offering further insight into how a novel ultrasound technique could help treat Alzheimer’s disease. The findings describe how focused ultrasound can weaken the blood-brain barrier in brain cells from Alzheimer’s patients, potentially improving the uptake of drugs designed to treat the disease.

The blood-brain barrier protects brain tissue, but it also has a protective function that “prevents the uptake of drugs and therapies targeting brain diseases.” Researchers have been exploring the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and the blood-brain barrier for several years, with early animal studies revealing focused ultrasound may help the brain clear toxic protein clumps associated with neurodegeneration.

This new study offers a highly specific investigation into how these kinds of ultrasound pulses can affect the blood-brain barrier in Alzheimer’s brains. If you don’t mind the medical jargon, here’s how the study worked: The researchers took human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from patients with a rare genetic mutation that makes them highly likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Those iPSCs were then coaxed into becoming brain endothelial cells, to serve as a model of the blood-brain barrier in a brain susceptible to Alzheimer’s.

Interestingly, the researchers found the ultrasound treatment had a greater disruptive effect on the Alzheimer’s brain cells than the healthy brain cells, indicating that the ultrasound test could help the brain become receptive to Alzheimer’s treatments. Although more trials will be needed to verify both the safety and efficacy of the treatment, it is exciting to see researchers take such a novel approach to treat Alzheimer’s.

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Ultrasounds could bolster treatments for Alzheimer’s disease

A new study led by Australian researchers is offering further insight into how a novel ultrasound technique could help treat Alzheimer’s disease. The findings describe how focused ultrasound can weaken the blood-brain barrier in brain cells from Alzheimer’s patients, potentially improving the uptake of drugs designed to treat the disease.

The blood-brain barrier protects brain tissue, but it also has a protective function that “prevents the uptake of drugs and therapies targeting brain diseases.” Researchers have been exploring the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and the blood-brain barrier for several years, with early animal studies revealing focused ultrasound may help the brain clear toxic protein clumps associated with neurodegeneration.

This new study offers a highly specific investigation into how these kinds of ultrasound pulses can affect the blood-brain barrier in Alzheimer’s brains. If you don’t mind the medical jargon, here’s how the study worked: The researchers took human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from patients with a rare genetic mutation that makes them highly likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Those iPSCs were then coaxed into becoming brain endothelial cells, to serve as a model of the blood-brain barrier in a brain susceptible to Alzheimer’s.

Interestingly, the researchers found the ultrasound treatment had a greater disruptive effect on the Alzheimer’s brain cells than the healthy brain cells, indicating that the ultrasound test could help the brain become receptive to Alzheimer’s treatments. Although more trials will be needed to verify both the safety and efficacy of the treatment, it is exciting to see researchers take such a novel approach to treat Alzheimer’s.

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