Ultrasound to treat dementia

More than 400,000 Australians are currently living with dementia; 244 people are newly diagnosed every day (and increasing); and the number of cases is expected to nearly triple by 2056.

More than a century since Alzheimer’s disease was first described, we still lack an effective treatment and the same is true for other dementias. The obvious question is, when are they coming and will there be a cure? It’s likely dementia, like cancer, will never be completely preventable, but we should be able to delay its onset, and limit its damage.

Led by Professor Jürgen Götz, scientists at QBI’s Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research(CJCADR) are developing a non-invasive ultrasound technology to treat Alzheimer’s disease and restore memory.

The approach temporarily opens the blood-brain barrier, activating mechanisms that clear toxic protein clumps, and restoring memory functions. Research has been conducted in mouse models and is being scaled up in higher animal models. This breakthrough research is bringing hope to the hundreds of thousands of Australians currently living with the illness.

The research undertaken by CJCADR investigates, at a biochemical, molecular, behavioural, electrophysiological and histological and systems level, how ageing dementia causes neurodegeneration as well as the decline of memory and also, motor functions. This is complemented by studies into physiological ageing.

The Centre uses as experimental systems mainly tissue culture cells and genetically modified mice and worms.