For many years researchers and neurosurgeons have sought ways to minimize the risk of traumatizing brain circuits during surgical repair. Finally! They may be nearing a breakthrough as they discovered a noninvasive approach that could afford doctors the chance to treat debilitating neurological diseases without causing collateral damage to adjacent brain structures.
This revolutionary treatment is proposed to work by combining low-intensity focused ultrasound waves, microbubbles to first pass through the brain defense, and via a neurotoxin to eliminate faulty brain cells while leaving healthy cells unscathed, unharmed.
The University of Virginia College of Medicine research team and colleagues at Stanford University, share the belief that if the theory could be successfully be translated to the operating room, it could mark a “before and after point” in the treatment of neurological cases like epilepsy, movement disorder, etc
- Research Dr. Kevin Lee, of UVA’s Department of Neuroscience and Neurosurgery and the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia [BIG] described the novel surgical strategy as having the ‘potential’ to surpass traditional neurosurgical techniques used for managing diverse neurological cases.
The PING, the next big thing?
About a third of epilepsy patients do not respond to drugs or other non-invasive therapy. This necessitates that the patients “go under the knife”, as the last resort to eliminate seizures. The research team developed a new approach to operating, PING, and has shown interesting prospects in animal studies.
Furthermore, Lee and his co-researchers have successfully demonstrated in two research models of epilepsy that PING can effectively reduce or even eliminate seizures. This discovery has shown us that it’s indeed possible to treat neurological cases without brain surgery, just by a carefully targeted non-invasive approach
In the Journal of Neurosurgery, Lee and his team, explained the ability of PING to focally eliminate diseased neurons in the brain, while causing little or no harm to the adjacent brain structures. This is in clear contrast to the traditional surgery that damages both diseased and non-diseased brain cells.
Through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) guidance, scientists peer inside the skull directing the sound waves through the brain’s natural defenses and to the precise location of the lesion. This barrier is designed to keep harmful cells and molecules out of the brain, but it also prevents the delivery of potentially beneficial treatments.
The UVA group’s concluded in their new paper that PING allows the delivery of a highly targeted neurotoxin, cleanly wiping out problematic neurons without causing collateral damage.
Another edge PING has over conventional surgery, is that it can be used for an oddly shaped target in areas where surgical excision will be difficult, if not impossible. According to Lee, “If this strategy translates to the clinic the noninvasive nature and specificity of the procedure could positively influence both physician referrals for and patient confidence in surgery for medically intractable neurological disorders.”
Dr. Lee, who is part of the UVA Brain Institute further expresses his hopes PING strategy is possibly becoming a ‘key element in the next generation’. This is due to its incredible precision and noninvasiveness in treating neurological cases
The advent of PING has brought safer alternatives to traditional surgery with lesser complications, and failure rates.
The PING is indeed a revolutionary treatment that has the full potential to revolutionize surgery and medicine as a whole.