Canadian researchers successfully breach blood-brain barrier using ultrasound

A recent study of Alzheimer’s patients found physicians can safely breach the blood-brain barrier using ultrasound and an MRI scanner, the San Francisco Chronicle reported this week.

“It’s been a major goal of neuroscience for decades, this idea of a safe and reversible and precise way of breaching the blood-brain barrier,” Nir Lipsman, the study’s leader and a neurosurgeon at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, told the Chronicle. “It’s exciting.”

While the blood-brain barrier is a protective necessity, the Chronicle wrote, it has also become a difficult barrier for Alzheimer’s drugs and similar treatments for brain tumors and other neurologic conditions. Lipsman and his colleagues’ research, which was recently published in Nature Communications, found that focused ultrasound could safely poke holes in the barrier without causing irreversible damage.

During the trial, the researchers used an MRI machine to aim ultrasound waves at a precise area of the brain in six Alzheimer’s patients. With the doctors having injected microbubbles into a patient's bloodstream prior to the MRI, those pulses of energy caused the bubbles to vibrate, loosening the brain barrier.

Read the full story from the Chronicle below.