While no medications can currently stop the progression of Alzheimer’s or cure the disease, some medications can reduce the symptoms for a limited period of time. New research on the use of ultrasound therapy now holds promise for a new Alzheimer’s treatment that does far more than lessen symptoms. Read on to learn more, shared by El Dorado County Home Care Assistance.
Researchers with the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland in Australia used a type of ultrasound known as a focused therapeutic ultrasound to send sound waves into the brain tissue of mice with Alzheimer’s. The team discovered that the sound waves were able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and activate microglial cells, unique immune cells that remove defective and dead brain cells. After ultrasound therapy, these microglial cells were able remove protein plaques in the brain and cure the mice.
Alzheimer’s is the result of a build-up of two types of plaque in the brain: amyloid plaque that develops between neurons and tau protein plaque that clumps in neurons. For decades, researchers have been unable to determine which protein clump is responsible for the disease, although both are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
While the exact mechanism is still unknown, the ultrasound waves were able to temporarily penetrate the blood-brain barrier, a nearly impenetrable protective layer that lines blood vessels in the brain and prevents antibodies and other cells from moving into surrounding brain tissue. Researchers believed that this method could flush out soluble amyloid protein in the brain and reduce protein plaques or allow antibodies from the blood into the brain. It seems the ultrasound waves achieved this goal by allowing a blood protein called albumin into the brain and that the presence of albumin prompted the microglial cells to become hyperactive and seek out brain plaques to destroy.
Alzheimer’s researchers are hopeful that the results of this study can be translated to people. If ultrasound therapy does work on the human brain, it will provide a fast, affordable, and effective solution to Alzheimer’s that may be a true cure. Human trials of ultrasound therapy for Alzheimer’s are expected to start in 2017.
If your elderly relative has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and you could use help meeting his or her care needs, don’t hesitate to reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our comprehensive Alzheimer’s care in El Dorado County is available on an hourly or live-in basis, we never require long-term contracts, and a dedicated Care Manager is on call 24/7. To learn more please call (916) 358-3801 and request a complimentary in-home consultation.