Melbourne: In a breakthrough, scientists have found that non-invasive ultrasound technology can be used to treat Alzheimer's disease and restore memory in mice.
Researchers from Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland discovered that the innovative drug-free approach breaks apart the neurotoxic amyloid plaques that result in memory loss and cognitive decline.
Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research director Professor Jurgen Gotz said the new treatment method could revolutionise Alzheimer's treatment by restoring memory.
"We're extremely excited by this innovation of treating Alzheimer's without using drug therapeutics," Gotz said.
"The ultrasound waves oscillate tremendously quickly, activating microglial cells that digest and remove the amyloid plaques that destroy brain synapses," Gotz said.
The approach is able to temporarily open the blood-brain barrier, activating mechanisms that clear toxic protein clumps and restoring memory functions.
"With our approach the blood-brain barrier's opening is only temporary for a few hours, so it quickly restores its protective role," Gotz said.
Researchers have tested the new approach using mice with an Alzheimer's model, and the next step is to scale the research in higher animal models ahead of human clinical trials, which are at least two years away.
"This treatment restored memory function to the same level of normal healthy mice," Gotz said.
"We're also working on seeing whether this method clears toxic protein aggregates in neurodegenerative diseases other than Alzheimer's and whether this also restores executive functions, including decision-making and motor control," Gotz said.