Breaking New Ground in Alzheimer's Research


Lloyd Zucker, M.D., a board-certified neurosurgeon and medical director of neurosurgery, left, and Hermes Kamimura, at Delray Medical Center, treating the first patient with Insightec’s non-invasive focused ultrasound technology.

Florida Atlantic: Breaking New Ground in Alzheimer's Research

Delray Medical Center is the first hospital in Florida to treat a patient with Alzheimer’s disease using non-invasive focused ultrasound technology as part of a groundbreaking study being conducted with Florida Atlantic’s Institute for Human Health and Disease Intervention (I-Health). An estimated 6.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, which is the sixth leading cause of death for those age 65 and older, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The FDA-approved clinical trial is designed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of Insightec’s ExAblate Model 4000 Type 2.0 System, as a tool for disrupting the bloodbrain barrier in probable Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimer’s may be caused by a buildup of certain proteins in the brain. Precisely guided by magnetic-resonance imaging, ultrasound waves are directed at specific areas of the patient’s brain to create a temporary opening in the blood-brain barrier where the protein buildup may be reduced.

“Drug passage through the blood-brain barrier is perhaps one of the greatest challenges in neurology,” said Gregg Fields, Ph.D., executive director of I-Health, professor of chemistry and biochemistry in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, and program director for the project. “The treatment of the first patient in Florida with the non-invasive focused ultrasound technology represents a significant advancement for potential drug delivery and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders. In tandem, we are also working on non-invasive, bloodbased monitoring to determine if treatments are effective.”

As part of Florida’s Brain State initiative, a strategic plan to advance Alzheimer’s research in Florida, the trial plays an essential role in caring for the state’s aging population. The study is also being conducted at up to eight sites across the country, bringing its impact to the national stage. “By establishing the Florida Alzheimer’s Center of Excellence last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis has placed Alzheimer’s disease as a priority health issue in Florida, which will benefit the more than 580,000 people now living with Alzheimer’s as well as their families,” said FAU President Stacy Volnick. “We are excited to collaborate with Delray Medical Center, Insightec and others on this groundbreaking technology that will create the next generation of patient care for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.”

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