Daring Treatment Developed by Toronto Scientists may Help Alzheimer’s Patients

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Brave Alzheimer’s patients have enrolled for a daring experiment. They will allow scientists to beam sound waves into their brain and open a temporary orifice in its protective shield.

The blood-brain barrier prevents hazardous substances from reaching the brain or leeching into the body, but it also prevents the medicine from working properly for patients suffering from brain tumors and several neurological diseases. The technology, which uses ultrasounds in order to work, can create holes in the barrier which can be strictly supervised and sealed, allowing for a non-invasive manner of treatment.

While such manners of treatment have been desirable for decades, this is the first step in making it both safe and effective for the patient, and without additional health risks. An initial test conducted on a batch of 6 volunteers showed that the procedure will not damage the fragile blood vessels of the brain, preventing any complication such as hemorrhages. No potential treatment was tested but the results are promising.  What makes the technology even more useful is the fact that it can target specific regions of the brain, allowing for focused and effective therapy.

Simultaneous studies explore if the intervention could be useful for Lou Gehrig’s disease. Chemotherapy tests may also show if the treatment is useful for people who have a deadly type of brain tumor called glioblastoma. Dr. Graeme Woodworth of the University of Maryland Medical Centers confirms that the aim of the project is to offer localized treatment in key locations.

The new technology involves the injection of air bubbles in the targeted location, using a MRI scanner for aiming. Ultrasound waves beamed through a specialized device will make the bubbles vibrate, allowing for a gap to open. Medicine will be injected via the gap and it will be swiftly closed. No side effects have been spotted and the insertion of drugs is the next step. Should the treatment work, it may improve the life of countless people around the world.


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