Key Takeaways From a Study of FUS in Early AD Dementia: Ali Rezai, MD


The executive chair at the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute at West Virginia University shed light on early data from a small sample of patients with early Alzheimer disease who underwent focused ultrasound treatment. [WATCH TIME: 5 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 5 minutes

“The study is looking at the first 10 subjects who underwent this procedure. We demonstrated that we can safely, reversibly, and on-demand open the blood-brain barrier with focused ultrasound in mild Alzheimer's patients in all target regions—hippocampus, frontal lobes, and parietal lobes.”

Safely opening the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in patients with Alzheimer disease (AD) may be vital in delivering immunotherapy and other therapeutics to targeted areas in the brain. Utilizing MRI-guided focused ultrasound (FUS) is 1 technological avenue that shows promise in opening the BBB, as well as reducing amyloid-ß in targeted regions.

In conversation with NeurologyLive®, Ali Rezai, MD, executive chair, Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, West Virginia University (WVU), discussed early, encouraging data from a study evaluating the safety and efficacy of FUS technology in patients with mild AD. Rezai, who is the lead author, as well as vice president of neuroscience, associate dean, and John D. Rockefeller IV tenured professor in neuroscience at WVU, presented data from 10 patients at the 14th Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease Conference (CTAD), November 9-12, 2021.

Investigators found that FUS could safely and reversibly open the BBB with FUS with no imaging adverse events. Looking at Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale and Mini-Mental State Exam scores longitudinally at 6 months and 1 year, there was no evidence of significant cognitive or behavioral worsening in the treatment croup, when compared to an age- and sex-matched cohort form the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. 

Using a focal PET analysis, investigators further demonstrated a 13% reduction in amyloid-ß in the hippocampus, 13% reduction in the parietal region, and 7% reduction in the frontal lobes. Rezai noted the analysis was limited, calling for more participants and a larger group analysis to better determine efficacy.

For more coverage of CTAD 2021, click here.

Rezai A, Ranjan M, Haut M, et al. Longitudinal safety, clinical, and beta amyloid PET outcomes of a multi-center clinical trial of focused ultrasound blood brain barrier (BBB) opening of the hippocampus, front, and parietal lobes in early Alzheimer’s disease. Presented at CTAD; November 9-12, 2021; Virtual & Boston, MA. Abstract OC26. 
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