Scientists find a new method to treat Alzheimer’s disease

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In a new study, researchers found that focused ultrasound improves the delivery of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg).

IVIg is a blood product composed of antibodies from healthy donors, previously shown to have potential in treating a subgroup of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

The research was conducted by scientists at Sunnybrook Research Institute and elsewhere.

Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that impacts 419,000 Canadians aged 65 years and older. By 2050, it is estimated it will affect more than 132 million individuals worldwide.

Hallmarks of the disease include “plaques” and “tangles” composed of toxic proteins that develop and eventually prevent areas of the brain from producing nutrients and sending signals involved in the health of brain cells.

Over time, this causes deficits in cell-to-cell communication and functions, including difficulty in thinking and reasoning, confusion, and memory loss. Without treatment, brain cells will continue to degenerate and die.

Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg), a therapeutic biologic composed of pooled antibodies from tens of thousands of donors, has been used to treat patients with various autoimmune and neurologic diseases since 1981 with high efficacy and safety.

IVIg has shown promise in reducing amyloid pathology in the brain and increasing neurogenes.

However, the properties of the blood-brain barrier making it difficult for sufficient amounts of IVIg to reach the brain.

The blood-brain barrier surrounds blood vessels in the brain and restricts the passage of substances from the bloodstream to the brain.

In the study, the research team tested whether focused ultrasound combined with microbubbles, a non-surgical method used to briefly increase the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, could improve the delivery of IVIg to the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in learning and memory and severely degenerated in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

The results show that focused ultrasound increased the bioavailability of IVIg from the blood to the hippocampus, where it reached therapeutic efficacy at a relatively low dosage given intravenously.

The study paves the way for future clinical studies combining focused ultrasound and therapeutics, such as IVIg, for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

One author of the study is Dr. Donald Branch.

The study is published in PNAS.

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