New Hope for Alzheimer’s Sufferers


Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that affects a person’s thinking, behaviour and ability to perform everyday tasks. Alzheimer’s disease affects up to 1 in 10 Australians over 65 years of age, and up to 3 in 10 Australians over 85.

In June, it was announced USA regulators approved a new drug for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. It was the first time since 2003 that a drug has been approved for the disease.

The drug, Aduhelm, has been shown to reduce levels of beta-amyloid, the sticky plaque that is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, in the brain. It’s believed Aduhelm works most effectively the sooner the patient is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, before damaging proteins, called “tau”, can form. Aduhelm is currently under review by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), with a decision expected in early 2022.

In another interesting development, the University of Queensland recently announced that Professor Jürgen Götz and his team from the University’s Brain Institute have had success with using low-intensity ultrasound to help restore cognition.

The preliminary findings provide a potential new avenue for non-invasive technology and will help clinicians tailor medical treatments that consider an individual’s Alzheimer’s disease progression and cognitive decline.

“Historically, we have been using ultrasound together with small gas-filled bubbles to open the almost-impenetrable blood-brain barrier and get therapeutics from the bloodstream into the brain,” Professor Götz said.

The new research involved a designated control group who received ultrasound without the barrier-opening microbubbles.

“The entire research team was surprised by the remarkable restoration in cognition,” he said.

Professor Götz said using ultrasound could enhance cognition independently of clearing amyloid and tau, which form plaques and tangles in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

‘’We are taking these findings and implementing them in our Alzheimer’s research as we go forward to clinical trials.’’

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