ICUS Weekly News Monitor 2-13-2015

1.  NIH - National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering,  Feb 11, 2015,  Attacking Alzheimer’s with Ultrasound;  NIH-funded study reveals a new technique to decrease Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice
 
2. Gizmag,  Feb 12, 2015,  Ultrasound technique shown to reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice     By Nick Lavers
 
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NIH - National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
Feb 11, 2015
 
Attacking Alzheimer’s with Ultrasound
NIH-funded study reveals a new technique to decrease Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice
Citations EB003268
 
For the first time, researchers have reversed some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in mice using magnetic resonance (MR) imaging-guided focused ultrasound.
 
MR imaging-guided focused ultrasound has been shown to temporarily open the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which allows for more effective delivery of drugs to the brain. In order to accomplish this, researchers use a microbubble contrast agent. The microbubbles vibrate when they pass through the ultrasound beam, temporarily creating an opening in the BBB for the drugs to pass through. In addition, this combination of ultrasound and microbubbles has been shown to increase the number of new neurons and the dendrite length.
 
In this study, Kullervo Hynynen, Ph.D., a medical physicist at Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto, and his collaborators studied the effects of using MR imaging-guided focused ultrasound on the hippocampus of transgenic (TgCRND8) mice. Mice with this genetic variant have increased plaque on their hippocampus, the part of the brain that helps convert information from short-term to long-term memory; they also display symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s such as memory impairment and learning reversal. Thus, transgenic mice are used as an animal model for Alzheimer’s disease.
 
The researchers used MR imaging-guided focused ultrasound with microbubbles to open the BBB and treat the hippocampus of the mice. The researchers treated each side separately to be as accurate as possible in their focus of the ultrasound beam. They found the treatment led to improvements in cognition and spatial learning in the transgenic mice, potentially caused by reduced plaque and increased neuronal plasticity due to the focused ultrasound treatment. They found no tissue damage or negative behavioral changes in the mice due to the treatments in either the transgenic mice or the control (nontransgenic) mice. Both groups of mice benefited from increased neuronal plasticity, which confirms the previous research on the effects of MR imaging-guided focused ultrasound on plasticity in healthy mice.
 
An estimated 5.2 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and there is currently no treatment for the disease. “The results are an exciting step in the search for Alzheimer’s treatments,” said Steven Krosnick, M.D., Program Director for Image-Guided Interventions at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at NIH, “but there is more to be done. There are limitations on the memory tests that can be done on mice, and human cognition is significantly more complex. Hopefully these results will open doors to more research on how MR imaging-guided focused ultrasound could benefit cognition and perhaps be magnified by using other therapeutics in conjunction with this method.”
 
This research was supported in part by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering award #EB003268
 
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Gizmag
Feb 12, 2015
 
Ultrasound technique shown to reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice
By Nick Lavers
 
Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging-guided ultrasound, a technology that involves highly-targeted ultrasound beams and monitoring their effects through imaging, has shown to help treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in mice. The treatment was found to improve brain performance in the animals and has the researchers hopeful that the technique may prove effective in improving cognitive behavior in humans.
 
Scientists at Toronto's Sunnybrook Research Institute were exploring the effects of the therapy on transgenic mice, a variant of mice that have increased plaque on the hippocampus (a part of the brain responsible for memory). These mice show symptoms typical of Alzheimer’s in humans, such as memory loss and learning difficulties, and are therefore used in research relating to the disease.
 
Using a microbubble contrast agent, the researchers found that they were able to temporarily open up the blood-brain barrier, a passageway to the brain. But only when the microbubbles travel through the high-intensity ultrasound beam do they have this effect, clearing the way for a more effective delivery of drugs.
 
The plaque abnormalities on untreated transgenic mice (left) and the brain of a transgenic...
The plaque abnormalities on untreated transgenic mice (left) and the brain of a transgenic mouse that has been treated with MR imaging-guided focused ultrasound (right)(Image: Kullervo Hynynen, Sunnybrook Research Institute)
 
Using this technique to treat the transgenic mice, they observed improvements in cognition and spatial learning. They say a possible reason for this is a boost in neuronal plasticity resulting from the ultrasound beam, combined with a reduction of brain plaque, the presence of which in humans correlates with symptoms of Alzheimer’s. The team also reported an increase in the number of neurons and dendrite length, the tree-like extensions of neurons that help them communicate with other neurons.
 
"The results are an exciting step in the search for Alzheimer’s treatments," says Steven Krosnick, Program Director for Image-Guided Interventions at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at Nation Institutes of Health. "But there is more to be done. There are limitations on the memory tests that can be done on mice, and human cognition is significantly more complex. Hopefully these results will open doors to more research on how MR imaging-guided focused ultrasound could benefit cognition and perhaps be magnified by using other therapeutics in conjunction with this method."
 
Source: National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

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