New ultrasound scanning technique removes amyloid beta plaques in mouse brains

World class research out of the University of Queensland has shown that an ultrasound scanning technique can reduce and remove amyloid beta plaques from the brains of mice with Alzheimer’s disease.

Amyloid beta is a major hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, there are ways of identifying it in the brain, but there are currently no treatments available to remove it. Researchers at the Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research, University of Queensland have recently developed a non-invasive ultrasound technology which they hope may able to do just that, and remove amyloid beta from the brain.  

Results published in the Journal Science Translational Medicine, showed that applying the ultrasound technique on mice with Alzheimer’s disease removed amyloid beta plaques from the brain, and in some cases, cleared the plaques completely. Treated mice were also found to perform better on a variety of memory tests, indicating that it may also reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research director Professor Jürgen Götz said the new treatment method could revolutionise Alzheimer’s disease treatments by restoring memory.

“We’re extremely excited by this innovation of treating Alzheimer’s without using drug therapeutics,” Professor Götz said.

“The ultrasound waves oscillate tremendously quickly, activating microglial cells that digest and remove the amyloid plaques that destroy brain synapses.

“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.”

It should be noted that the skulls of mice are much thinner than those of humans and thus the approach would need considerable modifications before clinical trials can be undertaken in humans. The next step is testing this approach in sheep, which will give researchers a clearer idea of whether this technique could translate to humans.

Alzheimer’s Australia CEO Carol Bennett welcomes these new findings saying:

“This is world class research coming out of Australia, and we look forward to seeing further results to get a better idea of whether this ultrasound technology may be used as an Alzheimer’s disease treatment option in the future.”

See a short clip by ABC News which explains this research



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