Radiology Techniques Could Help Treat Alzheimer's Disease—Here’s How

Alzheimer's disease can be a devastating diagnosis. Although some therapies can help with the symptoms, Alzheimer's is infamous for being a complex, irreversible, and ultimately incurable condition.

However, new research offers hope for the future.

A study led by Rashi Mehta, a researcher with the WVU School of Medicine and Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, looked at how a combination of focused ultrasound and MRI can help treatments cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB).

Treatment starts with the brain

As you are likely aware, the BBB is a huge hurdle when it comes to treating conditions in the brain.

Although the BBB helps keep toxins out of the brain, it also keeps out helpful medications. Past studies show that focused ultrasound could help get past that BBB and send treatments to specific areas of the brain.

The newest study, published in Radiology, builds on that research by looking at the use of focused ultrasound to open the BBB in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in learning and memory.

Using focused ultrasound, guided by MRI, researchers created BBB openings in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex of three women, ages 61-73, with Alzheimer’s disease.

How well can we cross the BBB hurdle?

Contrast-enhancement dye helped track the changes that occurred in the participants’ brains. The dye followed the route of draining veins, creating a pattern that suggested an immunological response. The BBB closed back up 24 hours after all procedures ended.

Not only were the researchers able to open the BBB safely, but the participants didn’t experience any adverse effects. The researchers hope to get more volunteers for their study to examine the long-term effects and make sure it’s safe and effective.

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