β-Amyloid Plaque Reduction in the Hippocampus After Focused Ultrasound-Induced Blood–Brain Barrier Opening in Alzheimer’s Disease

A collaborative research group from West Virginia University, Vanderbilt University, and Weill Cornell Medical College measured the beta-amyloid plaque changes in six patients with Alzheimer’s disease who underwent multiple sessions of focused ultrasound—based blood brain barrier (BBB) opening.

stock amyloid plaque alzheimersAs reported in April 2020, the team enrolled six patients with early Alzheimer’s disease in the feasibility and safety study, which was designed to determine whether focused ultrasound could reversibly open the BBB in areas of the brain essential for memory: the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex.

This new paper now reports the part of the study that measured the patients’ β-amyloid plaque levels before and after treatment. Positron emission tomography (PET) scans with 18F-Florbetaben were administered before and then one week after the completion of the third BBB opening treatment (a 60-day interval). This initial small patient study suggests a reduction in the β-amyloid plaque burden in critical areas of the brain with a 5.05% (+/- 2.76%) decrease in the ratio of PET binding in the treated versus the untreated sides.

“The reduction in β-amyloid plaque is a major finding and replicates the preclinical work from the Queensland Brain Institute in Australia that found that temporary focused ultrasound-induced opening of the BBB led to reduced plaque levels and improved function on Alzheimer’s disease equivalent neurologic testing,” said Foundation Chief Medical Officer Tim Meakem, MD. “This report represents a small population that will need to be expanded, but if these patients go on to show a reduced rate of progression of their Alzheimer’s, this could be a major advance in the treatment of the disease.”

See Frontiers in Human Neuroscience > 

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