Research on Alzheimer’s disease is really booming and many discoveries allow us to be optimistic about a method of healing or control of Alzheimer’s disease in the more or less distant future. Recently, Australian researchers have developed a non-invasive ultrasound technology that removes neurotoxic amyloid plaques – structures that are responsible for memory loss and cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer.
When a person suffers from this disease, it is usually the result of an accumulation of two types of lesions: amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Amyloid plaques develop between neurons and in the form of dense clusters of beta-amyloid molecules, a type of sticky protein that agglutinates and forms plaques.
Neurofibrillary degeneration occurs within the nerve cells of the brain, and is caused by defective tau proteins that aggregate to a thick, insoluble mass called neuritic plaques. This causes a twisting of the tiny filaments called microtubules that are responsible for transporting essential substances such as nutrients. For comparison, imagine the loss of efficiency of a badly twisted vacuum hose.
Since we do not have a vaccine or preventative measure for Alzheimer’s disease, a disease that affects 50 million people around the world, a race to find the best way to treat it is underway all over the world. start by how to avoid this accumulation of defective beta-amyloid and tau proteins in a patient’s brain. Now, a team from the Queensland Brain Institute (MCQ) at the University of Queensland has come up with a very promising solution.
In the publication of Science Translational Medicine, the team describes the technique of using a particular type of ultrasound called “targeted therapeutic ultrasound,” which non-invasively radiates brain tissue with sound waves. By oscillating very quickly, these sound waves are able to stimulate the microglial cells of the brain to move in the brain tissue. Microglial cells are used primarily to eliminate cellular waste. The team’s reports point out that in 75 percent of mice undergoing treatment, complete restoration of memory was observed, causing absolutely no damage to brain tissue. They found that the treated mice performed better in three memory tasks – the labyrinth, a test to get them to recognize new objects, and another to get them to remember the places they had to to avoid.
The team says it plans to start testing with more advanced animal models, such as sheep, and hopes to be able to practice human trials in 2017.
Untreated mice with Alzheimer’s (left) and treated with ultrasound (right)
This type and success rate could mean great things for the treatment of this disease. What would be the consequences for people suffering from the disease? Could this lead to an increase in life span and better brain function for the elderly population? These and other questions will continue to explore other research.