November 2018 Research Roundup


Have you read the new journal articles about using focused ultrasound to treat cardiac arrhythmias, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease? Recently published work by scientists from two focused ultrasound Centers of Excellence investigates a transesophageal application for cardiac ablation and describes the outcomes from preclinical studies that examine the effect of focused ultrasound on beta-amyloid in Alzheimer’s and on Lewy pathology in Parkinson’s.

Myocardial Thermal Ablation with a Transesophageal High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound Probe: Experiments on Beating Heart Models
A group of French researchers led by Cyril Lafon, PhD, designed and tested a novel probe that combines focused ultrasound with transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) for thermal ablation treatment of cardiac arrhythmia. The team used B-mode ultrasound, passive elastography, and MRI to monitor the lesions while evaluating various sonication protocols. Further testing of energy deposition is necessary, but the TEE approach may be clinically promising. See Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology.

Time Course of Focused Ultrasound Effects on β-amyloid Plaque Pathology in the TgCRND8 Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease
Kullervo Hynynen’s group at the University of Toronto conducted studies to quantify changes in beta-amyloid plaque size after the application of focused ultrasound. Using in vivo, two-photon fluorescence microscopy, the team found a significant and lasting reduction of 62% of the original plaque volume in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease after one focused ultrasound treatment. Could biweekly focused ultrasound treatments become an effective method of reducing β-amyloid pathology in moderate-to-late stages of Alzheimer’s disease? See Scientific Reports.

Noninvasive Delivery of an α‐synuclein Gene Silencing Vector with Magnetic Resonance–guided Focused Ultrasound
A collaborative team in Toronto is using focused ultrasound and microbubbles to open the blood-brain barrier and allow viral vectors to reach the parts of the brain affected by Parkinson’s disease. In their preclinical study, the group applied focused ultrasound to four regions of the brain after administering an adeno-associated virus vector with an RNA sequence that targeted the α‐synuclein gene. They then evaluated the immune reactivity of each region along with the progression of cell death and glial activation. Could focused ultrasound assist in silencing genes associated with Parkinson’s disease? See Movement Disorders.