At Tokyo Women’s Medical University in Japan, Takaomi Taira, MD, PhD, has begun a focused ultrasound trial that is pioneering an approach for treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. He is targeting the pallidothalamic tracts in the brain, an approach that he believes is superior to other targets due in part to their location.
“Because of the physics involved with steering the ultrasound waves through the intact skull, targets in the center of the brain are easier to treat,” says Prof. Taira, Director of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery at Tokyo Women’s. “The pallidothalamic tracts are located in the middle of the brain. I believe this is the safest and most effective target to relieve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.”
His work builds on previous research by renowned Swiss clinician Daniel Jeanmonod, MD. In the current study, Prof. Taira plans to treat 10 patients using Insightec’s Exablate Neuro device. As with other focused ultrasound studies for Parkinson’s disease, he will treat unilaterally, meaning he will only treat one side of the brain. Typically this is the side of the brain that controls the patient’s dominant side. However, if the patient desires bilateral treatment, he will consider treating the opposite side of the brain during a separate procedure at a later time.
To date, one patient has been treated unilaterally in the study, and the preliminary results are encouraging. “During the treatment, the patient’s rigidity improved dramatically,” recalls Taira. “I even received a call from the patient’s neurologist one week after the treatment. She was amazed by the positive effect of focused ultrasound therapy in her patient.”