Dec 14, 2020

Scientists show that focused ultrasound can enhance delivery of promising therapeutic for Alzheimer's disease

Programs: Graduate, Research: Brain & Neuroscience
Sonam Dubey and Isabelle Aubert

Dr. Sonam Dubey completed her PhD in Dr Isabelle Aubert’s lab in Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology (LMP) in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine.

One of the highlights of her PhD is her recent publication as first author in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), together with LMP faculty Drs JoAnne McLaurin and Donald Branch, and Drs Stefan Heinen (Sunnybrook Research Institute), Kullervo Hynynen (Sunnybrook Research Institute and Medical Biophysics, Temerty Faculty of Medicine) and Slavica Krantic (Sorbonne Université).

Their research demonstrates that focused ultrasound improves the delivery of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg), a blood product composed of antibodies from healthy donors, previously shown to have potential in treating a subgroup of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

“We knew IVIg had potential for Alzheimer’s but, at the dosages used, it had failed to show significant improvement in clinical trials. We thought: how can we rescue it?” says Dr. Aubert, Senior Scientist in the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program at Sunnybrook Research Institute and Canada Research Chair in Brain Repair and Regeneration. “How can we deliver more IVIg to the brain?”

“Our results show that focused ultrasound increased the bioavailability of IVIg from the blood to the hippocampus, where it promoted the production and survival of new neurons at a relatively low dosage given intravenously,” says Dr. Dubey.

The study paves the way for future clinical studies combining focused ultrasound and therapeutics, such as IVIg, for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Hang Yu Lin, who completed a Master of Science in Biomedical Communication (MScBMC) at the University of Toronto and worked with Dr. Aubert over the years, created a video that illustrates how focused ultrasound can be used to increase the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, modulate the brain environment, and deliver therapeutics from the blood to the brain.