In this March 23, 2017 photo provided by the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, patient Rick Karr is prepared for treatment at the facility in Toronto, Canada. Karr was the first Alzheimer's patient treated with focused ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier. Scientists are using ultrasound waves to temporarily jiggle an opening in the brain’s protective shield, in hopes the technique one day might help drugs for Alzheimer’s, brain tumors and other diseases better reach their target. (Kevin Van Paassen/Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre via AP)

Ultrasound jiggles open brain barrier, a step to better care

July 25, 2018 - 12:03 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — A handful of Alzheimer's patients signed up for a bold experiment: They let scientists beam sound waves into the brain to temporarily jiggle an opening in its protective shield.

That shield, called the blood-brain barrier, prevents germs and other damaging substances from leaching in through the bloodstream. But it can block drugs for Alzheimer's, brain tumors and other diseases, too.

Canadian researchers on Wednesday reported early hints that technology called focused ultrasound can safely poke holes in that barrier — holes that quickly sealed back up. It's a step toward one day using the non-invasive device to push brain treatments through.

The findings were presented at an Alzheimer's conference and published in Nature Communications.

AP Editorial Categories: 
Comments ()