FORBES – In a recent paper published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Ali R. Rezai and colleagues present encouraging results showing that ultrasound can temporarily disrupt the blood brain barrier.
Doing so long enough allowed them to deliver a key Alzheimer’s drug called aducanumab, an anti-amyloid antibody, to reach the brain. The combined approach resulted in decreased amyloid-beta plaques in treated regions.
The Blood Brain Barrier — A Crucial Brain Protector that Sometimes Gets in the Way
The blood brain barrier’s serves to protect the brain and spinal cord, which together make up the central nervous system, from things like pathogens and toxins.
Unfortunately, the barrier also prevents most drugs from reaching the brain, making it a significant challenge to treat many neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s.
The authors of this work temporarily opened the blood brain barrier by using low-intensity focused ultrasound, guided by magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, to facilitate the delivery of aducanumab to targeted brain regions.
The study only tested a very small number of patients diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s, three to be exact, over six months. So, it was a proof-of-concept trial rather than a large clinical study.
Given the number of patients involved, no population statistics or generalizations can be drawn from their results.
However, given the positive clinical responses of the three patients who underwent the treatments and how carefully the study was planned and conducted, it certainly offers encouragement and warrants a larger follow-up study with more patients.
The blood brain barrier is a physical and functional barrier formed by the endothelial cells that line the capillaries in the brain and spinal cord. Connections tightly join these cells together, which are actually called tight junctions. Tight junctions give endothelial cells control over what crosses from the blood into the cerebrospinal fluid the brain and spinal cord are floating in …