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Description: Imagine you are a biochemist and you have been working on finding substances that could be used against the two main toxic proteins involved in Alzheimer’s, amyloid beta and tau. Further imagine that you have found a substance that seems to do what you want, at least when tested on the proteins in petri dishes. You get approval for human trials, but you are disappointed with the results as the substance does not seems to produce the results you hoped. You hypothesize that perhaps the substance is not getting to the targeted areas in the brain in sufficient qualities so you up the dosage and see some improvement but still not what you hoped. Direct injection into the brain is not a safe option so, what do you do? Well, read the article linked below to see what some researchers at the University of Toronto are trying.

Source: Trial Tests use of focused ultrasound on Alzheimer’s, Wency Leung, Health Reporter, The Globe and Mail.

Date: February 2, 2019

Photo Credit: GSO Images/Getty Images

Article Link:

The blood-brain barrier makes it difficult to get more than small quantities of potential therapeutic substances in to specific locations in the brain where they might help. Increasing dosage often brings unwanted side effects and so other delivery models are needed. Targeting specific areas of the brain such as the motor control brain regions of Parkinson patients is another example of a deliver problem. Direct into the brain injections do not work for ongoing treatment and substances taken by pill or IV cannot be steered to where they are needed. The ultrasound technique discussed in the linked article provides a means of increasing the delivery of therapeutic substances in to fairly specific brain regions and may give some of the new Alzheimer’s treatments a significant boost. Sometimes it is not that we need a treatment but rather a way to deliver it effectively.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What was the problem that focused ultrasound may be a solution for?
  2. How does focused ultrasound work?
  3. What are some other examples of treatment delivery issues?

References (Read Further):

Summers, W. K. (2006). Tacrine, and Alzheimer’s treatments. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 9(s3), 439-445.

Yiannopoulou, K. G., & Papageorgiou, S. G. (2013). Current and future treatments fo r Alzheimer’s disease. Therapeutic advances in neurological disorders, 6(1), 19-33.

Galimberti, D., & Scarpini, E. (2011). Disease-modifying treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. Therapeutic advances in neurological disorders, 4(4), 203-216.

Dunnett, S. B., & Björklund, A. (1999). Prospects for new restorative and neuroprotective treatments in Parkinson’s disease. Nature, 399(Supplementary), A32.

Hauser, R. A. (2011). Future treatments for Parkinson’s disease: surfing the PD pipeline. International Journal of Neuroscience, 121(sup2), 53-62.

Sacks, O. (1983). The origin of” Awakenings”. British medical journal (Clinical research ed.), 287(6409), 1968.

Sacks, O. (2010). Awakenings Revisited. Sacred Heart University Review, 12(1), 2.