Focused ultrasound could unblock brain barrier to deliver Alzheimer's drug

Canadian researchers may have found a non-invasive method to safely poke holes in the blood-brain barrier to allow delivery of drugs for neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.

The research, presented Wednesday, July 25, at the 2018 Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Chicago, detailed how scientists used focused ultrasound to poke reversible holes through the barrier to push treatments to the brain.   

“It’s been a major goal of neuroscience for decades, this idea of a safe and reversible and precise way of breaching the blood-brain barrier,” lead author Nir Lipsman, MD, a neurosurgeon at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center told AP. “It’s exciting.”

For their study, Lipsman and colleagues injected microscopic bubbles into patients' bloodstreams. With an MR scanner, the researchers aimed ultrasound waves at a precise area in the brain that made the microbubbles vibrate and loosened the blood-brain barrier to allow medications to pass through. 

A similar safety study is also underway for ALS, with researchers using the non-invasive ultrasound tool to help chemotherapy reach certain areas of the brain in people with glioblastoma. 

Read the Associated Press' entire article below: