A new mouse-model study conducted by the University of Queensland in Australia suggests that the high-energy sound waves produced by ultrasound devices may be helpful in treating Alzheimer’s disease. While several years of tests and studies lie ahead before human trials can be carried out, the study is already providing scientists with key information about the complex disease. Read on for more information, presented by Sonoma County Home Care Assistance.
A Focus on Amyloid Plaques
The seven-week animal study used mice that were genetically altered to develop the amyloid-β protein plaques that are present in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The transgenic mice did not have the neurofibrillary tangles and lost nerve connections that are also present in brains affected by the disease.
After weekly ultrasound treatments, the number of amyloid plaques in the mice was reduced by half. Researchers found that ultrasound prompted specific cells in the brain to remove amyloid-β and prevent the abnormal clumps from redeveloping. Unlike drugs used in previous studies to treat amyloid plaques, ultrasound did not appear to cause harmful side effects.
The 20 mice treated with ultrasound showed significant improvements in memory. The treatment enabled the test subjects to navigate mazes as successfully as normal mice, and they were able to remember the presence of electric-shock hurdles and avoid them. Their spatial awareness improved as well.
Of Mice and Men
Studies conducted on animals like mice are extremely useful for scientists as they struggle to understand the changes in the brain that lead to the development of Alzheimer’s. This breakthrough study not only exhibits potential when it comes to a non-invasive treatment, but it also sheds new light on the role that amyloid plaques play in memory impairment.
It’s important to remember, however, that the human brain is far more advanced and complex than mice. At best, animal studies can only point the way towards further studies.
If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and you’re unsure what comes next, reach out to the experienced staff at Sonoma County Home Care Assistance. Our comprehensive Sonoma County Alzheimer’s care can ensure your loved one has help and support throughout every stage of the disease. To learn more, please call (707) 843.4368 and speak with a dedicated Care Manager.