If you’ve ever had anyone in your life suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, you know that it is a brutal condition. Not only for the person suffering from it but for their family and friends. Alzheimers affects over 50 million people worldwide, and there is no cure or vaccine against it. The disease is caused by a build-up of two different types of lesions in the brain. One type, amyloid plaques are a sticky protein that develops between the neurons of the brain and keep them from transmitting properly. The other type of lesion, neurofibrillary tangles, are another thick protein mass that develops between neurons. The problem with curing the condition is clearing out the build-ups around the neurons in a manner the is not invasive.
Well, a research team from the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at the University of Queensland thinks they may have an answer. In their recent report in Science Translational Medicine, the team documented astounding results with using a specific type of ultrasound to restore brain function in mice. By using a therapeutic ultrasound technique to beam sound waves into the brains of the mice, they were able to safely break up the protein lesions that caused a decrease in memory function. The results showed that the scientists were able to restore the memory function in 75% of the mice they tested. These results also came with absolutely no damage to the surrounding brain tissue.
In a recent press release, Jürgen Götz said, “We’re extremely excited by this innovation of treating Alzheimer’s without using drug therapeutics. The word ‘breakthrough’ is often misused, 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.” The team is planning on expanding their tests and hope to enter human trials by 2017. It’s amazing to think that in our lifetime we might actually see a treatment for a disease that causes so much pain across the world.