Focused Ultrasound Therapy
Focused ultrasound is an early-stage, noninvasive, therapeutic technology with the potential to improve the quality of life and decrease the cost of care for patients with dementia. (Please note that Alzheimer’s disease is a specific type of dementia, and is covered under Alzheimer’s disease). This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasound energy precisely and accurately on targets deep in the brain without damaging surrounding normal tissue.
How it Works
Where the beams converge, focused ultrasound produces several therapeutic effects that are being evaluated. One mechanism is the temporary loosening of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which may improve the ability of toxic materials to exit and allow dementia to be treated without surgery. Opening the BBB can also enhance the delivery of therapeutic intravenous exosomes. Another mechanism is to use focused ultrasound to stimulate portions of the brain to have higher activity. While significant work has been accomplished, there is still much to be done before this technology will be widely available.
The primary options for treatment of dementia include medication, but this is of limited effectiveness.
For certain patients, focused ultrasound might provide a more effective alternative to current treatments. Focused ultrasound can reach the desired target without damaging surrounding tissue, and it can be repeated, if necessary.
A clinical trial treating patients with dementia that also have Parkinson’s disease has been completed.
A clinical trial is treating patients with neurodegenerative dementia in Los Angeles, California. This study is only recruiting patients by invitation.
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
Focused ultrasound treatment for dementia is not yet approved by regulatory bodies or covered by medical insurance companies.
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