Transcranial Pulse Stimulation with Ultrasound in Alzheimer's Disease-A New Navigated Focal Brain Therapy

Adv Sci (Weinh). 2019 Dec 23;7(3):1902583. doi: 10.1002/advs.201902583. eCollection 2020 Feb.


Ultrasound-based brain stimulation techniques may become a powerful new technique to modulate the human brain in a focal and targeted manner. However, for clinical brain stimulation no certified systems exist and the current techniques have to be further developed. Here, a clinical sonication technique is introduced, based on single ultrashort ultrasound pulses (transcranial pulse stimulation, TPS) which markedly differs from existing focused ultrasound techniques. In addition, a first clinical study using ultrasound brain stimulation and first observations of long term effects are presented. Comprehensive feasibility, safety, and efficacy data are provided. They consist of simulation data, laboratory measurements with rat and human skulls and brains, in vivo modulations of somatosensory evoked potentials (SEP) in healthy subjects (sham controlled) and clinical pilot data in 35 patients with Alzheimer's disease acquired in a multicenter setting (including neuropsychological scores and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)). Preclinical results show large safety margins and dose dependent neuromodulation. Patient investigations reveal high treatment tolerability and no major side effects. Neuropsychological scores improve significantly after TPS treatment and improvement lasts up to three months and correlates with an upregulation of the memory network (fMRI data). The results encourage broad neuroscientific application and translation of the method to clinical therapy and randomized sham-controlled clinical studies.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; brain stimulation; ultrasound.