Benjamin Walter, MD: Using Focused Ultrasound to Open the Blood-Brain Barrier


The medical director of the Deep Brain Stimulation Program at Cleveland Clinic discussed how the medical field is beginning to explore the full range of focused ultrasound’s capabilities to aid treatment in Parkinson disease.

“[The blood-brain barrier] normally makes it very difficult for some medications to get into the central nervous system and around the brain. With focused ultrasound, if you could disrupt the blood-brain barrier and then deliver a therapy, you might be able to get that therapy to work in the brain where otherwise it wouldn’t.”

The treatment of many movement disorders, such as Parkinson disease, while successful in many instances, is of course still hampered by difficulties and challenges. One of which is the need to disrupt the blood-brain barrier in order to increase the window in which treatments can be applied for patients.

Benjamin Walter, MD, medical director, Deep Brian Stimulation Program, Cleveland Clinic, told NeurologyLive that focused ultrasound is a way to possibly improve this. He spoke to some of the benefits it holds over even deep brain stimulation—its lack of implanted hardware and batteries for one—as well as how it can provide an option for those patients who are not surgical candidates.

Walter also discussed the ways in which focused ultrasound has begun to be explored in Parkinson treatment, and provided insight into the possible positive impact it may have on improving the delivery of the newest and investigational therapeutic options through its ability to disrupt the blood-brain barrier.

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