Brain surgery is one of the most complex and difficult procedures to carry out. The little box beneath our skull has millions of wires running inside of it, and one wrong interaction with these can have potentially fatal effects. In the majority of cases, this procedure leaves people with a long recovery process with permanent adjustments in how to live their everyday lives.
Thanks to new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, a noninvasive alternative to traditional brain surgery has been created. The approach, termed PING, precisely edits away problematic cells which cause disease, whilst ensuring healthy neurological architecture remains intact. It works by first using a non-invasive MRI guided penetration technique before a targeted neurotoxin can be delivered to the damaged brain cells.
“Our hope is that the PING strategy will become a key element in the next generation of very precise, noninvasive, neurosurgical approaches to treat major neurological disorders,” said Kevin Lee, a researcher who contributed to the study.
Some of the world’s most complex neurological diseases could be treated using this technique, including epilepsy. A third of patients who have the disease do not respond to seizure eliminating medication. People in this situation are often faced with either having to continue experiencing possibly deadly seizures or having drastic brain surgery. PING provides a novel way of solving these problems in a non-invasive manner, improving quality of life and life expectancy for patients.
The study, published in the Journal of Neurosurgery, concludes that this highly specific targeted treatment could revolutionize neurological treatment. Another huge advantage is how it can access parts of the brain that would be impossible with traditional surgery. In the paper, the group wirtes: “If this strategy translates to the clinic, the noninvasive nature and specificity of the procedure could positively influence both physician referrals for and patient confidence in surgery for medically intractable neurological disorders.”
Source study: Journal of Neurosurgery – Noninvasive disconnection of targeted neuronal circuitry sparing axons of passage and nonneuronal cells