Australian researchers have found that mice suffering from Alzheimer’s performed much better in behaviour tests after receiving ultrasound treatment, a discovery that could give hope in the battle to find a cure for humans suffering from the degenerative illness.
Neurotransmitter activities are disrupted in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. Beta amyloids, a natural protein, accumulated in a patient’s brain, leading to the formation of plaques that can damage nerve cells. The cerebral cortex of Alzheimer’s patients also shrink as symptoms progress.
Scientists at the University of Queensland in Australia conducted a series of tests in which they injected a solution containing tiny gas bubbles in mice. Ultrasound treatment helps the gas bubbles to expand. The bubbles then temporarily open a gap in the blood-brain barrier, allowing the entrance of antibodies into the brain. The antibodies remove toxic beta amyloids thus reducing the size of plaques in the patient’s brain.
Researchers plan to carry out the same tests in larger animals such as sheep. Tests in humans will be more difficult because of the harder human skull, which ultrasonic waves cannot easily penetrate.
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