West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute pioneers promising new Alzheimer’s therapy

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Posted on 10/17/2018MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Investigators at the West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute performed the first procedure in the world of a phase II trial using focused ultrasound to treat a patient with early stage Alzheimer’s. The procedure took place yesterday, and the blood brain barrier was opened successfully; the patient was sent home earlier today. Led by neurosurgeon Ali Rezai, M.D., the WVU team tested this innovative treatment in collaboration with INSIGHTEC, an Israeli medical technology company. Earlier this year, INSIGHTEC was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin a phase II clinical trial of the procedure, and selected the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute as the first site in the United States for the trial.

The new treatment, which involves incisionless surgery and no pharmaceuticals, represents a potential important next step in the treatment of Alzheimer’s. The trial will evaluate the potential benefits of using focused ultrasound treatment to disrupt the blood-brain barrier in the regions of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s, such as the hippocampus.

The team from the WVU Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, led by Ali Rezai, M.D. (standing, ninth from left), poses for a picture with Judi (seated, front row), the first patient in the world to undergo focused ultrasound as part of the phase II clinical trial to treat Alzheimer’s disease.Last summer, researchers at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto reported the results of a phase I safety trial showing that they could reversibly open the blood-brain barrier in Alzheimer’s patients. The current phase II trial is the next step to test focused ultrasound’s effectiveness as a treatment. This study will evaluate whether focused ultrasound reduces the debilitating plaques and cognitive decline that are the hallmarks of the disease.   

The blood-brain barrier separates the bloodstream from the brain tissue itself, and it limits …

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