Ultrasound technique restores memory in mice
Mice treated with a new ultrasound technique have been able to regain memory, according to a research team in Australia. The scientists see this as a promising step forward in battling the brain changes tied to Alzheimer's disease in humans.
Specifically, researchers at the Queensland Brain Institute say they were able to develop a noninvasive procedure that removed beta-amyloid plaque deposits in the brains of mice. That plaque buildup in the brain has been linked to Alzheimer's disease, although scientists aren't sure why it causes memory loss.
The team’s technique involved directing ultrasound waves into the brains of mice and that, said the researchers, opened up the blood-brain barrier, allowing immune cells of the nervous system to break down plaque buildup. They said the technique successfully removed plaque in 75 percent of mice. During a series of memory tests following plaque removal, mice that were treated outperformed those without treatment. In fact, the scientists said that the treated mice had their memory restored to the level of normal mice.
Beta amyloids are particles that make up proteins, that can clump together and get trapped between nerve cells of the brain. Scientists have suggested that the plaque blocks the nerve cells from transmitting messages throughout the brain, causing memory loss and loss of motor skills.
The results of this research, published in Science, suggest that the plaque removal technique could also be used to restore other lost skills, such as movement control and decision-making.