Ultrasonic Brain Stimulation Slows Down Dementia-related Brain Breakdown (Neuroscience)

The transcranial pulse stimulation with ultrasound (TPS) developed at MedUni Vienna under the direction of neuroscientist Roland Beisteiner from the University Clinic for Neurology is a procedure that can be used for various neuropsychiatric brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. It improves brain functions by activating functioning nerve cells from the outside. It has now been shown that the morphological degradation of the brain in dementia patients can also be reduced by TPS. The work was published in a renowned specialist journal.

In neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s dementia or Parkinson’s disease, nerve cells in the brain constantly perish. This can lead to memory gaps, speech disorders, mood swings or reduced mobility, as well as muscle tremors in Parkinson’s disease. The therapy options for neurodegenerative diseases are limited, there are currently no successful healing methods.

A method to at least temporarily reduce the breakdown of nerve cells was developed in Vienna. The transcranial pulse stimulation with ultrasound (TPS) penetrates non-invasively into all areas of the brain and activates those nerve cells that can contribute to the regeneration of brain functions. Clinical data from previous studies showed that two to four weeks of therapy with transcranial pulse stimulation can improve the functional networks and cognitive performance of patients affected by Alzheimer’s for up to 3 months.

Tissue loss is slowed down

The current study examined the brain morphology using magnetic resonance methods and was able to show that the cortical atrophy (tissue shrinkage in the brain) typical of Alzheimer’s disease can be slowed down by TPS. “We found a significant correlation between neuropsychological improvement and the thickness of the cerebral cortex in areas of the brain that are critical for Alzheimer’s and dementia,” explains study director Roland Beisteiner, under whose direction the new method of transcranial pulse stimulation with ultrasound was developed at the University Clinic for Neurology of MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital became.

Successful additional option to common therapies

These results underline the suitability of this method as an additional therapy option for the treatment of dementia diseases. Due to the effectiveness and attractiveness of the method, which has almost no side effects, several TPS therapy and research centers have already been set up in Europe, North America and Asia in addition to the University Clinic for Neurology at MedUni Vienna – an Austrian success story, so to speak. For a low-risk and effective implementation, however, neurological expertise is required, Beisteiner emphasizes: “Due to the complexity of the procedure, it is of particular social importance that the application is carried out by neuroscientific experts so that maximum safety and effectiveness are guaranteed,” explains Beisteiner.

Featured image credit: Ravil Sayfullin © Shutterstock

Service: Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions
Popescu T, Pernet C, Beisteiner R. Transcranial ultrasound pulse stimulation reduces cortical atrophy in Alzheimer’s patients: A follow-up study. Alzheimer’s Dement (N Y). 2021 Feb 25; 7 (1): e12121. doi: 10.1002 / trc2.12121. PMID: 33681449; PMCID: PMC7906128.

Provided by University of Vienna

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