A new weapon may have been found in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, The Guardian reports.
The breakthrough which involves the use of focused beams of ultrasound rather than drugs has only been tested in mice and proved surprisingly good at clearing tangles of plaques linked to Alzheimer’s in the animals’ brains also improving their memory.
This was measured by tests such as navigating a maze.
Previously, high-energy ultrasound had been combined with injected microbubbles, which vibrate in response to sound waves, this gets drugs across the so-called blood brain barrier.
However the new research is the first demonstration that ultrasound alone might have a beneficial effect on the memory-robbing condition.
After several weeks of treating mice that had been genetically altered to produce amyloid plaques, the scientists found the ultrasound almost completely cleared the plaques in 75% of the animals, without apparent damage to brain tissue.
Although there is still some debate as to whether plaques are a cause or a symptom of Alzheimer’s, the experiment found that the treated mice had improved memory, as measured by three different tests, compared with untreated ones.
Speaking on the new research, one of the study authors, Juergen Goetz of the University of Queensland, Brisbane said the research was very exploratory and at a very early stage.
He further stressed that it would be several years before it could be tested in people as sheep would first be treated with data from that experiment expected later this year.