Medical

Breakthrough ultrasound treatment to reverse dementia moves to human trials

Breakthrough ultrasound treatm...
The first phase of human trials for a promising ultrasound treatment for dementia is set to commence late in 2019
The first phase of human trials for a promising ultrasound treatment for dementia is set to commence late in 2019
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The first phase of human trials for a promising ultrasound treatment for dementia is set to commence late in 2019
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The first phase of human trials for a promising ultrasound treatment for dementia is set to commence late in 2019

An extraordinarily promising new technique using ultrasound to clear the toxic protein clumps thought to cause dementia and Alzheimer's disease is moving to the first phase of human trials next year. The innovative treatment has proven successful across several animal tests and presents an exciting, drug-free way to potentially battle dementia.

The ultrasound treatment was first developed back in 2015 at the University of Queensland. The initial research was working to find a way to use ultrasound to temporarily open the blood-brain barrier with the goal of helping dementia-battling antibodies better reach their target in the brain. However, early experiments with mice surprisingly revealed the targeted ultrasound waves worked to clear toxic amyloid protein plaques from the brain without any additional therapeutic drugs.

"The ultrasound waves oscillate tremendously quickly, activating microglial cells that digest and remove the amyloid plaques that destroy brain synapses," explained Jürgen Götz, one of the researchers on the project back in 2015. "The word 'breakthrough' is often mis-used, but in this case I think this really does fundamentally change our understanding of how to treat this disease, and I foresee a great future for this approach."

Since then, the team has worked to further test and refine the technique, successfully proving the treatment both clears toxic proteins and restores memory function safely in several different rodent models, including an older mouse model designed to resemble human brains of 80 to 90 years old.

The new announcement regarding the upcoming move to human trials is underpinned by a large funding injection from the Australian government helping accelerate the treatment's development. The first stage is a phase 1 safety trial, kicking off later in 2019, to explore the safety profile of the treatment in human subjects suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

In practical terms, the treatment is still probably close to a decade away from real-world clinical applications, and that would be assuming everything is successful between now and then. However, if this technique proves effective it could present an incredibly simple way for dementia to be treated. In an interview with ABC News in Australia, Jürgen Götz envisages a future where small, personal ultrasound devices could be rolled out for people to use in almost a preventative way.

"The goal, long-term, is to come up with an affordable, portable device, which would help the millions of Alzheimer's patients in our country and worldwide," says Götz.

Source: University of Queensland

10 comments
Muzza4
I'm 64 and my dad had dementia. Please hurry.
guzmanchinky
I'm 48 and my 78 year old mom, a former trauma surgeon, can't remember day to day. Too late for her, probably, but maybe not for me...
Martin Winlow
I'm no brain surgeon but might this research support the thought that similar therapeutic results might be had with a decent bout of regular aerobic exercise?
MikeofLA
Here's my thought. This is a non-invasive and potentially groundbreaking procedure... If it works it could metaphorically and almost literally bring people back from the dead. If it doesn't work, no harm. Why not just start implementing this procedure EVERYWHERE. Get a ton more data and possibly rejuvenate people that are suffering now. No harm, no foul. I kinda want to go get an ultrasound machine and hold it against my grandfather's head...
Rick Oleson
We put a man on the moon in ten years... Get cracking, please!
Username
From many recent Gizmatlas articles I got the impression that the more recent studies pointed to amyloid protein plaques being a symptom of an underlying cause instead of the cause itself. Either way anything that can reverse cognitive loss is a good step.
jd_dunerider
Learn how to safely fast if you want to prevent AD. Autophagy is a miraculous process taking place in our bodies at a constant basal level. It recycles cellular components including the plaques in the brain related to AD. This basal autophagy will usually clean the brain plaques, but when other factors like inflammation interfere, masses of proteins and damaged cellular structures accumulate in the brain. You can put autophagy into overdrive through nutrient deficiency(fasting). As long as you have the body fat to fuel your body through ketosis, fast away! Fast every other day for a few weeks, 3 days in a row once a month, 100 days in a row. Put that autophagy to work.
Grunchy
I've been reading more interesting things about fasting, I never realized it helped to induce autophagy. Lately I've given up breakfast for 5 days a week (which amounts to approximately 16 hr fasting), followed by vigorous 45 mins workout, then lunchtime: so far down about 8 lbs (about 28 lbs to go). Ironically I've found it's not even uncomfortable to do, I may keep going like this even after I lose the 28 lbs. https://greatist.com/live/autophagy-fasting-exercise
jd_dunerider
Grunchy that's awesome! I trained myself to go from 9pm to 6pm the next day without breaking my fast. Just a 3 hour feeding window where I eat a healthy meal with no processed foods or simple carbs. I've lost nearly 30 pounds, I'm almost never hungry, I have energy for days, and I'm putting autophagy to work. Along the journey I've had body scans done nearly every week and I only lost 3 pounds of muscle. People think fasting eats away as much muscle as fat, it's absolutely false. Fasting keeps your human growth hormone levels higher throughout the day, which helps burn fat and protect muscle. It's an amazing thing.
MichaelCohn
A breakthrough (hopefully), and yet we *still* have people talking about fasting and aerobic exercise (to "break up" the plaque I suppose) as alternatives. Perhaps next the researchers can find a way to help people educate themselves to the point where they don't think myths are real?