Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that causes the brain to atrophy and brain cells to die. It is the most common cause of dementia, which is characterized by a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills.
Out of the approximately 50 million people worldwide with dementia, between 60% and 70% are estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease.
Using cutting-edge Israeli ultrasound technology, a new joint project by Sheba Medical Center and West Virginia University aims to change the Alzheimer’s treatment paradigm.
The project aims to combat Alzheimer’s disease using non-invasive ultrasound waves delivered directly to the brain without requiring surgery. The US FDA has already approved the procedure, mainly used to treat Parkinson’s disease until recently.
According to Dr. Ali Rezai, Head of the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute at West Virginia University: “This technology allows us to temporarily and safely open the blood-brain barrier, which is a barrier in the blood vessels that usually prevents antibodies or large molecules of medications from getting to the brain. In our studies and initial clinical trials, we have been able to show a reduction in the brain plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s, as well as a reduction in the progression of the disease.”
A total of 18 patients with mild Alzheimer’s took part in the initial clinical trial, which is now being expanded.
The US-Israeli team is also looking into using ultrasound waves to treat brain tumors such as glioblastoma, among the most aggressive forms of brain cancer.
“We are working in tandem to treat people with brain tumors, and specifically glioblastoma.
With this technology, we can open the blood-brain barrier and deliver the chemotherapy to the brain much more effectively,” Rezai added.
Along with Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy patients, the innovative ultrasound therapy is already offered to Alzheimer’s patients at Sheba Medical Center.