As a consequence, the body is incapable of clearing amyloid-β and tau protein accumulations on its own (we still don’t fully understand why they form in the first place) and creating treatments that can do the job effectively has been very challenging.
There are currently no approved therapies for Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia, only drugs that help manage side effects.
The QBI team’s approach to combatting dementia is ingeniously simple. Excited by the ultrasound energy, the microbubbles pulsate within brain blood vessels, which pushes the cells that form the BBB apart. When there are gaps in the barrier, the drug molecules and natural immune system-boosting molecules that are normally excluded from the brain can rush in to combat the plaques.
As promising as the animal study results may be, other researchers have recently suggested that the so-called "amyloid hypothesis" of dementia could be incorrect or incomplete. After a string of drugs designed to either eliminate these proteins or stop them from forming totally failed in clinical trials, many began to question the long-standing notion that plaques are the underlying cause of dementia symptoms.
In their past studies, the QBI team observed that reduction in plaques by microbubbles with and without antibodies was accompanied by a reduction in symptoms, suggesting a cause and effect relationship, but it is possible that the transient opening of the BBB induced other brain changes that were ultimately responsible for improving the mice’s neurological health.
One thing that we do know for certain? Results from the upcoming phase 1 trial will be eagerly awaited.