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article imageBreakthrough treatment for Alzheimer's has 'massive effect'

By Marcus Hondro     Mar 13, 2015 in Science
Researchers in Australia have published results of a study that shows great promise when it comes to finding a cure for Alzheimer's Disease and other dementia. They've only tested their 'beams of ultrasound' on mice but the results were exceptional.
Ultrasound attacks dementia
The beam of ultrasound treatment does not involve drugs but, as it sounds, a beam of ultrasound. The beam is focused on the area of the brain in an Alzheimer's patient that's covered in amiyloid plaques and the beam clears away the plaques, much like a jet of water would clear away debris on pavement.
Science can't be sure if these clumps of plaques cause Alzheimer's or are a symptom of the disease. They are found outside the neurons in the diseased brain (the other lesion found in dementia are neurofibrillary tangles, found inside the neurons and not a part of this study). In any case, the researchers found that reducing or eliminating the amyloid plaques in the mice created significant memory improvements.
The mice were altered genetically to produce amyloid plaque and give them dementia, an illness of which Alzheimer's is the most common. They then tested the mice, having them navigate mazes was a principal test, and found their memories impaired in comparison to their previous abilities and to other, non-dementia mice.
Reducing amyloid plaques in brain
Next the mice were treated with the ultrasound and those clumps of plaques which had formed on the cortex of their brains were reduced or eliminated. The ultrasound eradicated the plaque in 75 percent of the mice and did not damage their brains in any other way.
The mice were again tested for memory retention and the researchers found their memories had improved significantly from what they had been when their brains were covered with clusters of amyloid plaques.
"Our research was very exploratory and we really didn’t expect to see such a massive effect," a study author, Dr. Juergen Goetz of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, said. “I’m really excited by this."
The potential breakthrough study was published this week in the journal Science Translational Medicine and entitled Scanning ultrasound removes amyloid-β and restores memory in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model. They are now stepping up to sheep to perform similar tests.
Dr. Goetz said providing the treatment continues to show promise and be safe, they will in time move on to testing it on humans with Alzheimer's Disease.
More about Alzheimer's disease, treatment for alzheimer's, alzheimer's treatment
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