A groundbreaking experimental ultrasound treatment is being tested by Dr. Ali Rezai, a neurosurgeon, to potentially slow down cognitive decline in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and help those battling drug addiction. The treatment involves directing nearly a thousand beams of ultrasound energy at specific targets in the brain.
In a trial at the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute in West Virginia, patients with Alzheimer’s wore specialized helmets during the procedure.
Prior to the experimental ultrasound, patients received an IV treatment of aducanumab, a drug aimed at reducing beta-amyloid plaques believed to contribute to Alzheimer’s.
Focused ultrasound is used to open the blood-brain barrier, allowing therapeutic drugs to penetrate the brain more effectively.
Brain scans of patients showed a 50% greater reduction in beta-amyloid plaques when ultrasound was applied compared to infusion alone.
While the treatment has shown a reduction in plaques, its impact on reversing Alzheimer’s damage is yet to be determined.
Drug Addiction Treatment:
Dr. Rezai extended his ultrasound research to address severe drug addiction, building on technology used for Parkinson’s disease treatment.
An implant, similar to that used for Parkinson’s, is inserted into the brain to target the region responsible for behavioral regulation, anxiety, and cravings related to addiction.
The electrical pulses from the implant aim to suppress cravings, and adjustments can be made remotely with a tablet computer.
A trial involving four patients with severe drug addiction showed promising results, with two remaining drug-free since their operations.
Dr. Rezai is now exploring ultrasound therapy for addiction, aiming hundreds of beams at the brain’s reward center to observe changes in cravings and anxiety.
Dr. Rezai plans to expand the use of ultrasound therapy to help individuals with other brain disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obesity.
The therapy, while promising, involves calculated risks, and further studies are needed to assess its long-term efficacy and safety.
Dr. Rezai emphasizes the importance of pushing forward with innovative treatments, given the persistence of Alzheimer’s and addiction issues in society.