Brain Research – Parkinsons Disease

Brain Research Ultrasound and Parkinsons

Ambience: Cardiac Ultrasound
With the help of cardiac ultrasound technology, we’re listening to the flow of blood in a human heart. Ultrasound is also widely used to visualize fetuses in the womb. Now a new use for ultrasound is in development that could change the way we treat brain disorders like Parkinson’s Disease. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Michael Friedlander is Executive Director of the Virginia Tech Carillion Research Institute.

Friedlander: In Parkinsons Disease, a large percentage of a group of neurons in a particular area of the brain degenerate; they simply die. And those particular neurons are responsible for refining and controlling our movements, so that our movements are smooth and not jerky. When those neurons die and a very small fraction of them are left, and the chemicals that those neurons release are down to very low levels, our brains become highly incapacitated to initiate a movement or to refine the movements. So the movements appear very jerky and erratic.

In the past, Parkinson’s Disease has been treated with drugs and recently an effective treatment has been developed which stimulates affected areas of the brain by implanting electrodes. Of course, this requires surgery.

Friedlander: Another approach is – take the surviving neurons thta are there and activate them using a device that creates ultrasound pulses from outside the body. Stimulate them to do their thing at a higher level. So get a 1000 neurons to do what 10,000 neurons were doing previously, by activating them more strongly. So if you can do this for a patient with Parkinsons, you then would not need to have them have brain surgery to put a wire in their brain to stimulate that group of neurons.

We’ll hear more brain research in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner

Brain Research - Parkinsons Disease

A new use for ultrasound is in development that could change the way we treat brain disorders like Parkinsons Disease.
Air Date:11/22/2013
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Transcript:

Brain Research Ultrasound and Parkinsons

Ambience: Cardiac Ultrasound
With the help of cardiac ultrasound technology, we're listening to the flow of blood in a human heart. Ultrasound is also widely used to visualize fetuses in the womb. Now a new use for ultrasound is in development that could change the way we treat brain disorders like Parkinson's Disease. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Michael Friedlander is Executive Director of the Virginia Tech Carillion Research Institute.

Friedlander: In Parkinsons Disease, a large percentage of a group of neurons in a particular area of the brain degenerate; they simply die. And those particular neurons are responsible for refining and controlling our movements, so that our movements are smooth and not jerky. When those neurons die and a very small fraction of them are left, and the chemicals that those neurons release are down to very low levels, our brains become highly incapacitated to initiate a movement or to refine the movements. So the movements appear very jerky and erratic.

In the past, Parkinson's Disease has been treated with drugs and recently an effective treatment has been developed which stimulates affected areas of the brain by implanting electrodes. Of course, this requires surgery.

Friedlander: Another approach is - take the surviving neurons thta are there and activate them using a device that creates ultrasound pulses from outside the body. Stimulate them to do their thing at a higher level. So get a 1000 neurons to do what 10,000 neurons were doing previously, by activating them more strongly. So if you can do this for a patient with Parkinsons, you then would not need to have them have brain surgery to put a wire in their brain to stimulate that group of neurons.

We'll hear more brain research in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner