Alzheimer's Disease Focused Ultrasound Workshop Guides Future Research

The Foundation recently hosted a workshop to discuss the state of the field, current challenges, and the road forward for using focused ultrasound to treat Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The meeting took place June 12-13, 2023, in Arlington, Virginia.

More than 30 experts in AD – including some who were new to focused ultrasound– convened to share their research and discuss or elucidate issues that hinder growth in the field. The workshop aimed to identify gaps in knowledge, answer burning questions, and create a roadmap for the development of technical improvements, laboratory studies, and clinical trials.

The five burning questions that attendees discussed and attempted to answer include:

  1. What focused ultrasound parameters should be employed for clinical trials?
  1. What therapeutics should be considered in conjunction with focused ultrasound blood-brain barrier opening (BBBO) for AD?
  1. Should focused ultrasound BBBO alone be further considered as a treatment option for AD?
  1. What outcome measures should be standardized?
  1. What should the inclusion and exclusion criteria be for upcoming studies?

“The burning questions provided a structure for the group conversations, making the one-and-a-half-day meeting as valuable as possible,” said Lauren Powlovich, MD, the Foundation’s associate chief medical officer. “Some of the most interesting discussions centered on establishing a standard for microbubbles in the industry and drug selection in clinical trials. I think the workshop helped spur research collaborations that will advance the field.”

“One of the major takeaways that I witnessed was the camaraderie and openness among researchers from all over the world,” said Suzanne LeBlang, MD, the Foundation’s director of clinical relationships. “I am proud that the Foundation was able to create such a forum to bring the community together toward a common goal without the concerns you typically see over protecting intellectual property.”

There were two important initial outcomes from the meeting:

  • The group developed a one- to two-year roadmap of projects that could address the “burning questions” and lead to regulatory approval and reimbursement of focused ultrasound for AD.
  • The collaborative environment led to new relationships amongst experts that will facilitate the advancement of focused ultrasound for AD as rapidly and safely as possible.

A white paper documenting the workshop’s discussion and results will be made available soon.