In DepthNeuroscience

Can sound open the brain for therapies?

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Science  13 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6227, pp. 1186-1187
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6227.1186

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Summary

The blood-brain barrier, a tightly packed layer of cells that lines the brain's blood vessels, protects it from infections, toxins, and other threats but makes the organ frustratingly hard to treat. A strategy that combines ultrasound with microscopic blood-borne bubbles can briefly open the barrier, in theory giving drugs or the immune system access to the brain. This month, neurosurgeons hope to use ultrasound to deliver a dose of chemotherapy to a malignant brain tumor, in one of the first clinical tests of the technique. And in some of the most dramatic evidence of the technique's potential, a research team reports this week in Science Translational Medicine that they used it to rid mice of abnormal brain clumps similar to those in Alzheimer's disease, restoring lost memory and cognitive functions.