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New ultrasound Alzheimer's treatment to clinical trial in humans by end of 2017?
Millions of people worldwide are afflicted with Alzheimer's disease, a neurological disease that breaks down brain functions, eventually leading to death. Alzheimer's is most prevalent in older people, with the risk of developing the disease doubling every five years after age 65.
The main culprits identified by scientists are called amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Both are dense, sticky masses that cluster and interfere with neuron function. Existing medications for Alzheimer's disease attempt to treat the symptoms and stave off further damage – in both cases the effect is modest. There is no current cure.
In 2015, an Australian team published the results of a study showing that focused ultrasound waves restored memory function in mice whose brains contained Alzheimer's-type plaques. The sound waves opened up the blood-brain barrier and activated cells that typically clean up cellular wastes. The cells, called microglia, cleared away the plaques, restoring memory function in 75 percent of the mice, with no apparent detrimental effects. The team hopes to begin human trials of the non-invasive treatment in 2017.
Will an ultrasound-based Alzheimer's treatment begin clinical trials in humans in 2017?
For this question to resolve as positive, the Australian clinical trial registry must report the commencement of a trial using scanning ultrasound to clear amyloid plaques and/or neurofibrillary tangles in humans on or before December 31, 2017.
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