June 21, 2024

Breakthrough Alzheimer’s Treatment Uses Ultrasound to Boost Drug Delivery

Written by AiBot

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Jan 17, 2024

Researchers have made an exciting breakthrough in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease. A new ultrasound technique shows potential to dramatically improve delivery of Alzheimer’s drugs to the brain. This could accelerate the removal of harmful plaques and provide hope for those suffering from this devastating illness.

Focused Ultrasound Opens Blood Brain Barrier

A team at the West Virginia University (WVU) Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute demonstrated that focused ultrasound can safely open the blood brain barrier. This allows drugs to reach the brain over 100 times more effectively.

As Dr. Ali Rezai, WVU’s Vice President and Executive Dean of the Neuroscience Institutes explained:

“It’s like we’re now able to reach the second floor, whereas before we could only get to the first floor. This opens up the possibility that we’ll be able to develop all kinds of new therapeutics that will be able to better treat Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD.”

The blood brain barrier acts as a protective fence, preventing toxins in the bloodstream from reaching the brain. Unfortunately, it also blocks over 98% of drugs targeting brain diseases. The new ultrasound technique temporarily opens holes in this fence, providing a route for medications to pass through.

Combining Ultrasound With Alzheimer’s Drug Shows Promise

The WVU team combined their ultrasound technique with small doses of Aducanumab, an antibody drug for Alzheimer’s. Aducanumab clears harmful amyloid beta plaques that build up in Alzheimer’s patient brains. However, very little Aducanumab normally crosses the blood brain barrier to reach its target.

Remarkably, the combined ultrasound-Aducanumab approach removed over 50% more plaque compared to Aducanumab alone. This suggests far less drug is needed to achieve the desired effect.

Plaque Removed Aducanumab Alone Aducanumab + Ultrasound
Percentage 24% Over 50%

The accelerated plaque removal could rapidly slow progression of Alzheimer’s symptoms. It also reduces the drug doses required, which lowers costs and harmful side effects.

Alzheimer’s Treatment Featured on 60 Minutes

Dr Rezai’s pioneering addiction and Alzheimer’s research using this focused ultrasound technique will be featured in an upcoming 60 Minutes segment on January 21st.

This follows impressive clinical trial results published earlier this month in Nature Biotechnology. The trials found no safety issues and confirmed greatly enhanced delivery of Alzheimer’s drugs.

As Dr. Rezai noted:

“I think this is game-changing, in terms of the concept and the new approach…And I think it provides hope for millions of patients out there that suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.”

He suggests Alzheimer’s could be effectively managed if caught early enough using this new ultrasound treatment. It might even prevent the disease if combined with newly developed blood tests to catch Alzheimer’s years before symptoms appear.

What This Means for The Future

This ultrasound technique marks a major milestone in the battle against neurodegenerative disease. The ability to safely overcome the blood brain barrier unlocks a new world of targeted brain treatments.

As Dr. Rezai explains:

“Now we can get through that barrier and deliver drugs, deliver antibodies, deliver proteins, deliver antibodies that can fight and block abnormal proteins that cause these diseases in the first place.”

The approach could be adapted to boost delivery of cutting-edge gene and stem cell therapies. The ultrasound pathways close naturally over time, allowing safer repeated dosing than current invasive methods.

Results remain early but optimism is high. Many experts believe this could signal a new era in combating Alzheimer’s. While more testing is needed, the technique appears poised to accelerate research and drug development. For Alzheimer’s patients running out of time, this new hope is arriving none too soon.

What’s Next For Alzheimer’s Treatment

If results continue, experts predict human clinical trials in Alzheimer’s patients within 2 years. Researchers also plan additional trials for other brain conditions like Parkinson’s, ALS and brain cancer.

The research team continues working to improve precision in opening the blood brain barrier. Machine learning shows promise to optimize ultrasound pathways for individual patient brains.

Meanwhile with Alzheimer’s rates exploding, early detection is vital to combat cognitive decline before it’s too late. Encouragingly, multiple diagnostics companies are racing new accurate blood tests to market. These could identify Alzheimer’s risks 6-10 years in advance, allowing treatment before much damage occurs.

Combined with advanced therapies like this new ultrasound technique, Alzheimer’s could shift from a terrifying disease to one that’s detected early and effectively managed.


In summary, this new focused ultrasound innovation shows immense promise to overcome the blood brain barrier that has severely limited Alzheimer’s treatment. Early results suggest it can safely enhance delivery of drugs like Aducanumab to more rapidly clear harmful brain plaques implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.

This new technique pioneered by Dr. Rezai’s team at WVU could truly signal a new era in combating neurodegenerative disease. Alzheimer’s patients and their families now have more reason to hope than they have in decades. While more testing is still needed, optimism is running high for what this breakthrough could mean for managing Alzheimer’s disease moving forward. After years of frustration, we may finally have the keys in hand to unlock the barriers preventing effective treatment of this devastating illness.




AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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