Study: Focused ultrasound shows promising potential for future Alzheimer’s treatment

Peer-reviewed research published in Journal of Neurosurgery

Posted on 11/17/2022

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – A groundbreaking study has been published led by the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) at West Virginia University demonstrating the safety and feasibility of using focused ultrasound technology to open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) ​​in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. in the peer-reviewed Journal of Neurosurgery.

The RNI team’s research has shown that low-intensity focused ultrasound (LIFU) can non-invasively, safely and reproducibly open the blood-brain barrier in multiple brain regions with beta-amyloid deposits in Alzheimer’s disease. The published study is the largest cohort of Alzheimer’s disease patients treated with focused ultrasound. The results of the study showed no deterioration in cognitive function compared to a matched Alzheimer’s control group and revealed a slight decrease in beta-amyloid in areas treated with focused ultrasound.

“Our results are encouraging and demonstrate the safety of focused ultrasound in multiple brain locations with the potential for beta-amyloid reduction,” said Ali Rezai, MD, executive chairman of the RNI.

“This study is also a big step forward for the exciting possibility of combining focused ultrasound with targeted delivery of drugs or antibodies that normally have a limited ability to cross the blood-brain barrier from the blood to the brain.”

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, causes progressive memory and cognitive decline, and its incidence is increasing worldwide. There is no ongoing effective treatment or cure for it, and treatment approaches include medications that temporarily slow the worsening of symptoms for a short time.

The study, sponsored by INSIGHTEC, reports on 10 participants ages 55 to 73 from the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute and Weil Cornell Medical College, each with mild Alzheimer’s disease and undergoing non-invasive focused ultrasound. Opening the blood-brain barrier allowed access to parts of the brain critical for learning and memory retention where beta-amyloid plaques were present. The targeted regions include the hippocampus, the entorhinal cortex, and the frontal and parietal lobes. All patients showed closure of the blood-brain barrier within 24 to 48 hours and none of the patients experienced serious adverse events associated with the procedure.

“Insightec is committed to collaborating with leading researchers to advance the use of acoustic therapy in the brain,” said Maurice R. Ferré, MD, Insightec CEO and Chairman of the Board. “Using our focused, low-intensity ultrasound technology to open the blood-brain barrier for amyloid plaque clearance is an exciting advancement that promises to be a paradigm shift in the treatment of Alzheimer’s patients.”

About the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute

The WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute improves lives by making groundbreaking advances in brain health and therapies. With the latest technologies, innovative research, an ecosystem of partners and a multidisciplinary integrated approach to patient care, the RNI is making tangible progress in its goal to combat public health challenges ranging from addiction to Alzheimer’s disease. For more information on the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, visit WVUMedicine/RNI.

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